Police investigating death of jockey at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro police are investigating the death of a jockey whose body was found on the backside at Churchill Downs Tuesday afternoon around 4:30.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Jim Wesley has identified the man as 24-year-old Michael Baze. He was pronounced dead at 4:47 p.m.

Police say someone in the area had spotted Baze inside his SUV near Gate 5 earlier in the day. When he never got out of the vehicle, police were called and discovered he was dead.

The coroner says he may have been dead for several hours before being found, but can't yet confirm the exact cause of death.

Churchill Downs officials say they are cooperating with police and were shocked by his death.

"It's just a terrible tragedy to see a life snuffed out so early," said Vice President of Racing Communications John Asher. "We don't know why, we don't know what happened, but it's after an incredible Kentucky Derby weekend that had everybody floating about six feet off the ground - this is a punch in the gut to anybody in the industry, whether you knew him well or didn't know him."

Police are calling this a death investigation and do not suspect foul play.

Toxicology reports are pending, but it could be several weeks before the results are available.

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