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After much specultation as to whether or not he would retire after winning last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey will finally call it quits on January 28 after the Sunshine Millions card at Gulfstream Park. He will begine his second career as a racing analyst for ABC Sports and ESPN in March for the Dubai World Cup telecast.
Bailey, at age 48, will retire with over 5,890 wins and over $295 million in purses won, only $2 million short of Pat Day's record. He has won seven Eclipse Awards, more than any other jockey, and he set a record for stakes wins in 2003 with 70 victories. He also set a single-season purse earnings record of $22,354,960 in 2002 and broke it the next year with $23,354,960.
Bailey is the all-time winningest jockey in the Breeders' Cup with 15 total wins, including five wins in the Classic: Black Tie Affair in 1991, Arcangues in 1993, Concern in 1994, Cigar in 1995, and Saint Liam in 2005. His total purses won in the Breeders' Cup come to a whopping $22 million. He also had success in the Triple Crown with two wins in the Kentucky Derby, Sea Hero in 1993 and Grindstone in 1996, along with two wins in the Preakness and two in the Belmont.
Jerry Bailey aboard Saint Liam after winning the Breeders' Cup Classic last year.
He also had words of praise for the people and horses he has worked with over the last 31 years, saying "I want to thank all my valets and agents; the backstretch workers who make riding possible; owners and trainers too numerous to mention; the horses, both the grade I winners and the others that tried their hardest; and the media and fans."
A native of Texas, Bailey is the son of a dentist who owned Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. He started as a groom and exercise rider in his teens and won his first race in 1974 and the apprentice title at Oaklawn in 1976. He rode in Illinois, Florida, and New Jersey before going to New York where he really started to shine.
Bailey had considered retiring the last 3 or 4 years and said, "I wanted to take my traditional month off and see if the competitive fires for race-riding were still there. I came back, and to be quite honest with you ... I just didn't know or think I'd be up to it for another year." He decided on January 28 as his last day so many of his friends and family members could be there with him.
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