If Jerry Bailey is the perfect jockey, then Ron Anderson is the perfect agent.
The Las Vegas native has done everything right by Bailey since taking his book after parting company with Gary Stevens 2Â½ years ago.
Bailey, who turns 45 on Aug. 29, perennially is the nation’s top money earner. The horses Bailey has ridden this year have earned in excess of $14 million, some $4.5 million more than runner-up Edgar Prado.
Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1995, Bailey’s resume borders on fiction. He has won five Eclipse Awards as the nation’s top jockey. He rode 1996 Horse of the Year Cigar to a record-tying 16 consecutive victories. He won the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic on a horse whose name he couldn’t pronounce ”” Arcangues, at odds of 133-1, the biggest payoff in Breeders’ Cup history.
Suffice it to say, when Bailey rides, he rarely makes a mistake.
Some might say representing Jerry Dale Bailey is akin to having represented Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky in their prime. Not a hard sell.
Anderson, not one to invoke self-deprecation, is inclined to agree
"I don’t feel like there’s any pressure representing Jerry," Anderson said. "I consider myself a really good agent but he does all the right things and makes things very easy for me. There’s no selling at all involved with Jerry Bailey. The phone’s ringing off the hook all the time. I don’t have to pursue anybody, I don’t have to beg anybody. My job at this point is to just try and keep people happy, because Jerry is such a professional and the complete package."
Bailey has been that way since his father, a Texas dentist who owned horses, introduced him to racing. Bailey began riding quarter horses at age 12 and won on his first thoroughbred mount, Fetch, at Sunland Park in New Mexico in November, 1974.
Even when conflicts for Bailey’s services occur and Anderson must spurn one trainer in favor of another, the rejected trainer’s door always remains open for a jockey with Bailey’s impeccable dossier.
One of Bailey’s strongest assets is his skill as a positional rider. Sure, he’s usually on the best horse, but so was Solis in the Eddie Read. Jockeys make mistakes, but not Bailey. At least not often enough to recall.
"He’s amazing," Anderson says. "How he can go out every race and put a horse in a spot to have a chance to win is mind-boggling to me, and he does it race-in, race-out, whether they’re maidens, claimers, whatever. That’s almost impossible to do, because a horse might not be good enough. But Jerry gives a horse a chance to win."
Case in point: Bailey’s ride aboard the Frankel-trained odds-on choice Medaglia d’Oro in the Jim Dandy, a race the 3-year-old won by 13Â½ lengths.
"Nobody closed any ground that day," Anderson said. "Jerry told Bobby in the paddock, ”˜Look, I’m going to take a shot here and try and put this horse on the lead, because horses aren’t coming from behind to win today.’ Jerry got the jump on everybody leaving the gate and just kind of galloped around the track."
It’s rare when a rider tells a trainer what the strategy should be, especially a trainer like Frankel, who usually respects no one’s opinion but his.
"Jerry dissects and reads a Racing Form so well," Anderson said. "He knows the idiosyncrasies of the jocks and the horses, and he breaks down every aspect of a race. So when he comes to the paddock, trainers ask him what he thinks, rather than the other way around. Jerry and Bobby communicate very well. Bobby has a lot of confidence in him."
For Anderson, leaving the glitz and glamour of Southern California couldn’t have turned out better.
"It’s funny how things worked out," he said. "I had been in New York originally with Marco Castaneda for about seven or eight weeks, and I was reintroduced to New York when Gary and I raced there for the fall meets in 1995 and 1997.
With the exposure of Gary, I had a lot of telephone rapport with the top trainers on the East Coast, so I kind of fell into it. I knew my way around the New York area enough that I didn’t feel like I was on the moon when I got there (for Bailey).
"Jerry has such a huge following, such a huge amount of people who want him, I just pretty much have to keep people happy and like I said, I feel like I’m as good or better than anybody in my profession, but Jerry makes things so very easy."
THE HOMESTRETCH: Anderson said You, who won the seven-furlong Test Stakes for Frankel by a nose under perhaps Bailey’s most memorable ride, may not run again until the Sept. 7 Gazelle Handicap at 11/8 miles.
"Bobby might be telling people You’s going to run a mile and a quarter in the Alabama (on Saturday)," Anderson said, "but I don’t see that happening."
Asked about Baffert’s $50,000 "appearance fee" for running War Emblem in Monmouth’s Haskell, Frankel, this year’s money leader with more than $8 million and in quest of his third consecutive Eclipse Award, had "no opinion," adding he has never been involved in any such foray himself . . . Darrell Vienna will pass the Arlington Million with Suances in favor of the $1 million Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 8.