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A 24-year-old US jockey has been found dead in his car.

Michael Baze, from California, was discovered slumped in his car in the stable area of the racetrack at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 10 May).

He was pronounced dead just before 5pm, but is thought by emergency service to have been in the vehicle for several hours before they attended the scene.

A police investigation has been launched but “foul play” has reportedly been ruled out. A post mortem is planned.

Michael comes from a racing background and a relative of Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, the all-time leading rider in thoroughbred racing.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher described Baze’s death as “a tremendous and unthinkable loss”.

“He had so much potential down the road. It doesn’t make sense to any of us right now. It always gets your attention when you see the Baze name,” he added.

Michael had 34 wins from 238 starts this year, earning nearly $1.2m.

In 2007 he was the leading rider at Hollywood Park and Del Mar racetracks with his mounts earning more than $9.3m.