SAN DIEGO -- A 24-year-old Southern California jockey with strong ties to the Del Mar racing scene was found dead in his vehicle at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Michael Baze of Glendora was dead in his parked vehicle near the stables of the racetrack in Louisville, Ky. Louisville police said there were no signs of foul play, but the cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

Baze was the son of retired jockey Mike Baze and a cousin of Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, the all-time leading rider in thoroughbred racing. Baze started riding when he was 16 years old. He had nearly 7,000 career starts with 918 wins.

Felix Taverna, a broadcaster with Race and Sports Radio, said he was shocked to learn of Baze's death, which he read about on the Internet Tuesday.

"There are a lot of people here in San Diego County that have been associated with Michael Baze who are feeling heavy hearts this morning," Taverna said. "He was just a splendid young man. He always had a smile on his face … He came here in 2007 actually to Del Mar and won the Del Mar riding title."

Taverna said he thought Baze had been doing well professionally since he left California two years ago, but he didn't know if Baze was struggling with any personal issues.

"I think there's always pressure when you come from a big name like the Baze clan, which is very well known throughout the racing industry," Taverna said. "But there's always pressure on these jockeys to make weight, their diet, their rhythm as far as their workout regimen, riding seven and eight horses a day, being able to stay fit, plus the pressure of having good money and winning good money, and just everything that goes into being a top-notch jockey as Michael was."

Baze spoke to Fox 5 two years ago about his love of horse racing and wake boarding.

"I try to enjoy life. You've got to live it as good as you want it to be," he said then.