Confident Bailey has `I-told-you-so's' after drive to victory

Rider, who formulated own race plan, says he never harbored doubt

Jockey

May 21, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Red Bullet's Preakness win over Fusaichi Pegasus was a surprise to most, but not to jockey Jerry Bailey, who sensed there was something special about the horse the first time he mounted him.

"He was a very talented colt," Bailey, 42, said. "I really had no doubt that he would win the Gotham."

And he did win that race in March, although Bailey was not the man guiding him. Bailey had won in February on Red Bullet, but due to scheduling conficts and agent troubles, he was not aboard the colt in his next two races, the Gotham and the Wood Memorial, in which Red Bullet finished second to Fusaichi Pegasus.

Then, owner Frank Stronach reunited the two, just in time to pull off the upset over favorite Fusaichi Pegasus, and give Bailey his first Preakness victory since 1991.

"This was very satisifying," said Bailey. "Somebody asked me if it was more satisfying knocking off the favorite. Not necessarily. I don't take great pride in beating a horse like that."

Though he did not say it, Stronach must have. He fought temptation and decided against advising Bailey how to run the race. Instead, he let Bailey use his experience and ability.

"The less we tell Jerry, the better he is," Stronach said. "Deep down, I was very happy that Jerry sat way back. Basically, I would have loved to have told him to stay back and watch Pegasus, then race by him."

Without an overzealous owner whispering in his ear, Bailey waited until the race began to formulate his game plan, which he happily detailed 20 minutes after his triumphant ride.

It was the second Preakness victory in 10 attempts for Bailey, who won in 1991 aboard Hansel. A winner of three straight Eclipse awards, he led the nation in earnings from 1995 to 1997.

"I wasn't sure how I was going to ride the race exactly until the break," Bailey said. "I knew I was going to be off the pace a little bit, but I didn't know if I was going to be in front of the favorite or behind the favorite, depending on how strong my horse wanted to run the first third of a mile.

"It had been my intention going into the race at some point, if I had enough horse, to try and get the jump on the favorite -- "whether I was in front of him and try and open up quickly going into the far turn, or whether I would run by him and open up in that style.

"I was able to get up next to him and go ahead and take a spot in front of him on the inside. At that point, he [Pegasus] took back and I assumed he was going around, which is kind of what I wanted to happen."

Bailey won by 3 3/4 lengths, did his post-race news conference and headed off to catch a plane, not knowing whether he will ride Red Bullet in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Stronach is uncertain if the horse will run in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

If he does, Bailey hopes he gets the ride. He regretted not riding Red Bullet in the Gotham and the Wood.

2 for Bailey

Jockey Jerry Bailey's Preakness victory yesterday was his second in 10 tries:

Year..................Horse .............................Finish

1982..............Cut Away ...............................3rd

1991................Hansel................................... 1st

1992.............Technology ..............................6th

1993...............Sea Hero ...............................5th

1994..............Blumin Affair ............................6th

1995..............Tejano Run .............................9th

1996..............Prince of Thieves ....................7th

1998.................Cape Town ...........................9th

1999..............Worldly Manner .....................12th

2000.................Red Bullet .............................1st

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