From the Paulick Report
Champions ChallengeDespite his early lead in the ‘Champions Challenge’ at Cristal Racetrack, jockey Russell Baze finished just one point behind rival Jorge Ricardo at the end of five races. Ricardo crossed the wire with 37, while Baze had 36.

Race 1: Baze: First aboard Xamba Danz: Ricardo: Third aboard Rabanada

Race 2: Baze: Fourth aboard Chamarisco; Ricardo: Second aboard Ever King

Race 3: Baze (in a photo): First aboard From Tokyo City; Ricardo: Second aboard Warship

Race 4: Baze: Third aboard La Linda Fitz; Ricardo: Second aboard Sai Fora

Race 5: Baze: Fourth aboard Rodin; Ricardo: First aboard Rei Do Tango

The contest pits the longtime rivals against each other for the first time, vying for a contest pool of $5,000. Ricardo was the first jockey in history to win 10,000 races, but Baze was hot on his heels, reaching the 11,000 mark first in 2011. The Brazilian jockey, riding in Argentina, was sidelined for more than six months while he battled cancer. His win total now stands at 12,256, while Baze’s wins number 12,350.

“I never really thought about the competition with Russell,” Ricardo said recently, “but while recovering from the accident I started to think about retrieving my lead again. But either way, I love the competition. Horse racing is my life.”

Baze and Ricardo have ridden side-by-side only once before, when they were invited to take part in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot in 2008. There, they were on the same team, against some of the best jockeys from around the world. Both riders have won numerous awards in their resident countries.

The contest continues from Porto Alegre, Brazil.