January 18, 2006

Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey to retire

By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jerry Bailey became the third Hall
of Fame jockey to call it quits in the last six months when he
announced his retirement from racing Wednesday.

The final race for the 48-year-old Bailey will be on Jan 28
at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

With nearly 6,000 wins, including two triumphs in the
Kentucky Derby and a record 15 in the Breeders Cup, Bailey said
he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"I also want to walk away in one piece," he told a
teleconference. "I thank God for not only the talent he has
blessed me with but also keeping me in relatively good health."

Bailey joins recent retirees Pat Day and Gary Stevens on
the sidelines, leaving the sport with a void of big-name

"It is pretty amazing the group of talented riders that has
retired and maybe it's cyclical," he said. "I guess everything
in this world is cyclical.

"Maybe some of our careers extended further than we thought
so it's all grouped together a little bit more. But racing is
blessed with a lot of young talent coming up."

Bailey, who will become a racing analyst for ABC and ESPN,
overcame alcoholism early in his career to record victories in
six Triple Crown races and five Breeders' Cup Classics.

But he said the greatest triumph in his 31-year career was
in the Dubai World Cup a decade ago.

"The Kentucky Derbys are obviously very special because as
a jockey when somebody walks up on the street and finds out
what you do, the first question they'll ask is, 'Have you ever
ridden in the Kentucky Derby?' followed shortly by, 'Have you
ever won it?'," he added.

"That is probably the pinnacle of any jockey's aspiration.

"But I think if I had to pinpoint one, it would be the
Dubai World Cup in '96 with Cigar. I think mainly because not
only was it a victory for me, but I was representing the United

"It was being as close to an Olympian as I could probably
ever be."

Bailey, who won the 1996 Kentucky Derby aboard Grindstone
and the 1993 Derby with Sea Hero, said he would like to be
remembered as someone that "gave everybody their money's worth"
and "always put a horse in the position to win if he was good


The South Florida resident capped his career in style,
winning the 2005 Breeders' Cup Classic with Saint Liam. After
winning America's richest horse race, Bailey said he was
"comfortable" with his decision to retire.

"What excited me most were the biggest races on the best
horses on the biggest days," he said. "And to get to those
days, there's a lot of routine days.

"I just didn't feel the passion on those days that I should
have felt."