Still On His Game

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 18, 2008 in News, Other Events | No Comments >>

Jerry Bailey temporarily will come out of retirement to ride alongside seven other Racing Hall of Fame jockeys in the Living Legends race on Saturday at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park.

The 51-year-old jockey was quick to point out that this ride would be his last.

“You’ll never see this again. I will tell you that for sure, because I won’t be involved again,” Bailey said. “This is the one and only time I’m going to do this.”

The other Hall of Famers who will compete in the $47,000 optional claiming race are retired riders Sandy Hawley, 59; Pat Day, 55; Jacinto Vasquez, 64; Gary Stevens, 45; Chris McCarron, 53; Julie Krone, 45; and Angel Cordero Jr., 65. A random draw determined mounts for the seven-furlong race, which will include pari-mutuel wagering.

The Living Legends race will be run as the fourth race on the Saturday card. Post time is 2 p.m. PDT.

Bailey concluded his riding career in January 2006 with seven Eclipse Awards as North America’s outstanding jockey, 5,893 wins and $296,104,129 in purse earnings. Bailey’s purse earnings place him second on the all-time North American list behind Day, who compiled $297,912,019 in purse earnings.

Since retiring as a rider, Bailey has stayed involved in racing as an analyst for ESPN and ABC, which will provide live coverage of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on October 24-25 at Santa Anita. He has prepared for his return to riding by using isometrics, exercises that help build muscle tone.

“I am swimming, and I do lots of isometrics to build up my legs and arms,” Bailey said. “I also lift weights, but I do a lot of repetitions of isometrics that are very similar to riding.

“That’s what I used to do when I was riding and I would take a few weeks off at the end of the year. Obviously, this is much different. This is almost three years [since retirement].”

Bailey will ride Dee Dee’s Legacy in the Living Legends race, which drew a field of eight California-breds, plus four also-eligibles. The 5-to-2 morning-line favorite, Dee Dee’s Legacy enters off a runner-up finish in a six-furlong allowance race on February 21 at Santa Anita.

Regardless of how he fares during his return to riding, Bailey plans to stay permanently retired after Saturday.

“It’s bittersweet for me and for all of us, really,” Bailey said. “How many more times do we push the envelope? I hope everything goes smoothly, because in horse racing you never know. But the most fun is getting these eight guys together to ride again.”