Jockey Bailey Calling It Quits

Times Staff Writer

For the third time in less than a year, a legendary jockey is ending his career.

Jerry Bailey, 48 and a member of racing's Hall of Fame since 1995, announced his retirement Wednesday during a conference call.

Bailey's decision, which he had been considering for the last couple of years, came after Pat Day and Gary Stevens had retired in 2005.

The Texas-born Bailey, who began riding at Sunland Park in New Mexico in 1974, will begin work as a racing analyst for ABC and ESPN. His first assignment is the $6-million Dubai World Cup on March 25 in the United Arab Emirates.

His last ride is expected to take place Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park, aboard Silver Tree in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf. Silver Tree is trained by Bill Mott, with whom Bailey has enjoyed much success over the years. Mott trained Cigar, the horse of the year in 1995 and 1996. Owned by the late Allen Paulson, Cigar won 16 consecutive races during one stretch before he was beaten by Dare And Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Bailey was the rider for the last 15 of those victories.

"I just believe it is time," Bailey said. "It's time to spend more time with my wife and [13-year-old] son and I wanted to walk away in one piece."

Bailey considered retiring after winning his fifth Breeders' Cup Classic, aboard Saint Liam on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park, which tied him with Chris McCarron for most victories in that race.

"I did contemplate that, but I did not want to make my decision at the end of a year in which I knew I was tired," he said. "I needed to take some time off to think about it and see how I would feel about coming back. I really believe this is the time for me and I am good with the decision."

Trainer Bobby Frankel, who also had a successful partnership with the rider, said he has never known a jockey who entered a race better prepared than Bailey.

"He really did his homework and it paid off," he said. "He was a great rider and a very smart rider. He was a good handicapper and he knew exactly how a race was going to shape up and knew what the other riders were going to be doing.

" ... Another great thing about him was that as he got older he never lost his heart. He was as brave out there now as he ever was."

Through Sunday, Bailey had 5,892 career victories, which places him 15th on the all-time list, and his mounts have earned more than $295 million, good for second all time. Day leads with nearly $298 million.

He is tops among jockeys with 15 Breeders' Cup victories and set a record with 70 stakes wins in 2003. A seven-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top rider, he has shown few signs of slipping. Although he has continually cut back on the number of horses he rides, Bailey ranked third in earnings in 2005 with more than $18 million and is a finalist along with defending champion John Velazquez and Edgar Prado for another Eclipse Award. The Eclipse winners will be announced Monday night in Beverly Hills.

Although he won six Triple Crown races, including the Kentucky Derby with Sea Hero in 1993 and Grindstone three years later, Bailey points to his win aboard Cigar in the inaugural Dubai World Cup in 1996 as perhaps his signature moment.

"I was not only riding for myself, I was riding for the United States as well. It was probably as close to an Olympian as I will ever be," he said. "And, as I've stated on more than one occasion, I liked horses, but the reason I got into the game was that I enjoyed the thrill of competition more than anything else.

"But I came to love horses and Cigar was the most genuine, charismatic horse I ever got on and Bill Mott was, if not the best, one of the best horsemen I've ever been around. He's also become a very good friend. He was an easy guy to work for because he let me go out there and do what I did best."

Bailey's retirement leaves only four Hall of Fame jockeys who are still active: Russell Baze, Kent Desormeaux, Earlie Fires and Mike Smith.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Jerry Bailey file

*--* KENTUCKY DERBY

*--*

Sea Hero...1993

Grindstone...1996

*--* PREAKNESS STAKES

*--*

Hansel...1991

Red Bullet...2000

*--* BELMONT STAKES

*--*

Hansel...1991

Empire Maker...2003

*--* WOODWARD STAKES

*--*

Sultry Song...1992

Cigar...1995, 1996

Skip Away...1998

Lido Palace...2001

Saint Liam...2005

*--* DUBAI WORLD CUP

*--*

Cigar...1996

Singspiel...1997

Captain Steve...2000

Street Cry...2002

*--* FLORIDA DERBY

*--*

Technology...1992

Empire Maker...2002

High Fly...2005

*--* KENTUCKY OAKS

*--*

Dispute...1993

Flute...2001

Summerly...2005

*--* TRAVERS STAKES

*--*

Wise Times...1986

Sea Hero...1993

Medaglia d'Oro...2002

*--* BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC

*--*

Black Tie Affair...1991

Arcangues...1993

Concern...1994

Cigar...1995

Saint Liam...2005

*--* BREEDERS' CUP RACES

*--*

My Flag (Juvenile Fillies)...1995

Boston Harbor (Juvenile)...1996

Answer Lively (Juvenile)...1998

Cash Run (Juvenile Fillies)...1999

Soaring Softly (Filly & Mare Turf)...1999

Macho Uno (Juvenile)...2000

Perfect String (Filly & Mare Turf)...2000

Squirtle Squirt (Sprint)...2001

Orientate (Sprint) ...2002

Six Perfections (Mile)...2003

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* Year Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings 1974 66 9 8 6 $13,609 1975 632 95 83 99 $298,848 1976 1,367 210 180 176 $1,483,163 1977 933 159 120 93 $1,404,178 1978 948 163 119 111 $1,198,653 1979 1,025 161 129 127 $1,496,406 1980 846 133 123 110 $1,704,124 1981 921 132 112 110 $1,769,272 1982 1,083 139 130 131 $3,363,923 1983 1,103 158 122 133 $3,817,681 1984 865 132 104 74 $3,780,522 1985 858 119 123 81 $3,309,993 1986 987 124 128 136 $4,486,514 1987 847 108 115 104 $3,496,709 1988 1,066 159 135 112 $5,628,657 1989 1,195 194 167 166 $6,882,944 1990 1,210 224 182 167 $9,390,557 1991 1,109 204 180 129 $11,290,591 1992 1,102 229 169 128 $10,890,463 1993 1,105 209 163 148 $12,362,718 1994 1,219 255 189 166 $11,506,632 1995 1,267 287 194 144 $16,315,288 1996 1,185 297 189 165 $17,815,376 1997 1,143 272 186 178 $15,920,743 1998 1,038 263 186 122 $17,083,428 1999 982 244 167 134 $17,150,705 2000 908 246 145 133 $17,468,690 2001 912 228 193 137 $22,615,720 2002 833 214 139 118 $22,871,814 2003 776 206 149 97 $23,354,960 2004 642 148 115 98 $15,707,544 2005 654 169 103 91 $18,297,384 2006 19 2 4 2 $87,330 Total 30,846 5,892 4,551 3,926 $304,265,139

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