Jockey Bailey healing up
for Breeders’ Cup return

Sep 14, 2004 12:55 AM

A funny thing happened to Jerry Bailey on the way to the Breeders’ Cup.

He pulled a Tim Allen and broke his left wrist.

It wasn’t ha-ha funny, but it was worth a snicker, since Bailey suffered the break when he fell off a ladder while putting up storm windows at his Florida home on Sept. 1 as he attempted to batten down the hatches for Hurricane Frances. Move over, "Home Improvement."

It’s going to cost Bailey at least a month doing what he does best, which is riding race horses. If all goes well, the Hall of Fame jockey and seven-time Eclipse Award winner will be at his peak for the 2004 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Oct. 30.

"He’s going to start rehab in a week to 10 days and then we’ll kind of go from there," said his agent, Las Vegas native Ron Anderson.

The only thing Anderson is sure of is that Bailey has the mount on Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite Pleasantly Perfect. Beyond that, everything is up in the air.

"At this point I’m not sure," Anderson said. "The injury kind of throws a monkey wrench into things. I’ve got to see what happens with these next (prep) races and which horses I can get back on. We’ll just have to wait and see."

Such is life in the fast lane, even for Jerry Bailey. Great he is, but he is not bigger than racing. The game goes on without him. Horses run, jockeys ride and trainers find other jocks in his stead, even though Bailey is the first rider to win three consecutive Eclipse Awards, the first rider to pass $20 million in career earnings and first rider a trainer wants on his horse, especially in a world-class race.

But at age 47, by Bailey’s own admission, every year could be his last.

He doesn’t need the money. His mounts have earned more than $25 million, a record, and the Dallas native has won every classic around the globe, including the Kentucky Derby twice and 13 Breeders’ Cup events, more than any other rider. He also was the regular rider of two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, who equaled the modern day record for consecutive victories, 16, from 1994 to 1996. In short, Bailey has accomplished more than he ever dreamed he would.

"I’ve said the last few years that at the end of each year I’ll think about it, make an assessment and decide if I’ll ride next year, and this year is no different," Bailey told me in June.

"At the end of the year I’ll sit down and make a decision."

As for Anderson, he’ll evaluate his future without Bailey when it’s appropriate.

"I don’t know when he’s going to retire but I’ll wait till that time and then we’ll go from there and see what happens," Anderson said. "I’ll end up somewhere; I don’t know where. I haven’t even thought about it a whole lot yet. We’ll wait and see what he does first."

Meanwhile, don’t expect Bailey any time soon for the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita which begins on Sept. 29. "I don’t think I have anything lined up for him right now," Anderson said. "I’ll stay in New York."

The homestretch:

Add News You Can Bet On: In the Aug. 3-9 editions of GamingToday, we wrote: "With (Alex) Solis out indefinitely and (agent Scotty) McClellan without a rider, don’t be surprised if he eventually hooks up with David Flores."

We were on target a full month before it happened, because last week Flores severed relations with agent Bob Meldahl to join McClellan. With suspended Pat Valenzuela’s hearing date before the California Horse Racing Board still on hold, his agent, Corey Black, has teamed with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. Meldahl, who had been representing Smith, had heart surgery on June 29 and was sidelined about three weeks before returning for the Del Mar meet.

”¡ Here’s one reason racing is a second-class citizen when it comes to coverage: outside of a gate results and entries for Fairplex Park on the 15th and last page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times sports section, racing news received three inches of space buried with other sundry sports in the "Newswire" segment. On the same page, motocross had a separate article consuming 12 inches. Motocross! I’d sooner read Howard Stern’s biography (not really).