After winning $296 million, Jerry Bailey quits riding for a job in the broadcast booth
JERRY BAILEY was so good at judging the pace of a race that people said of him what they say of all the truly great jockeys: He had a clock in his head. Last week that clock told the 48-year-old Hall of Famer that the hour had come to hang up his tack. "I just really feel it's time to spend more time with my wife, Suzee, and [my son,] Justin," said Bailey, who has ridden in more than 30,000 races and won an astounding 19.1%. "I sort of want to walk away in one piece." His final race will be on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he will ride Silver Tree, a 6-year-old trained by Bill Mott.
In 31 years in the irons, Bailey won each leg of the Triple Crown twice, but the highlight of his career came after Mott put him aboard Cigar in 1995. Bailey rode the gelding to 15 straight wins, including the 1996 Dubai World Cup. In all, Bailey has won $296 million in North America (jockeys keep 10%), just $2 million short of Pat Day's alltime record. Instead of chasing that mark, Bailey will move into the broadcast booth, where he'll do commentary for ABC and ESPN. At least one of his former rivals is certain Bailey's observations will be astute. "No doubt, [he's] the smartest jockey I've ever ridden with," Day said.