<b>Saratoga Notebook: </b> Bailey Loses Jockey Battle but Wins War; Stewards Suspend Him for Sunday Infraction; Zito bounces Back
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2002 4:06 PM
Posted: Monday, September 2, 2002 7:49 PM
Though jockey Jerry Bailey lost the riding battle at Saratoga this summer, he was a very big winner nonetheless.
You could say he won the war.
Edgar Prado finished first in the jockey standings with 52 victories, knocking Bailey off the throne he has occupied for three years and for seven of the past eight seasons.
But of Bailey's 44 wins, 11 came in stakes, and four of them were Grade I's. The horses Bailey rode during the Saratoga meeting earned better than $3.8 million, nearly $1 millionmore than Prado's.
"I had a good meet," the 45-year-old Bailey said Monday. "'I've had a better win-wise total, but I still consider it a success."
However, he didn't get the one title he said he aims for every year.
"It's a little disappointing," he said. "I would have liked to have done it, but I didn't. Life goes on. I've been beaten before and come back and won it again. My goal next year is to win it again."
During his Hall of Fame career, Bailey established a reputation as a superior rider on turf. Rain sliced into that edge this summer when 31 grass races were moved to the main track.
"It hurt me," Bailey said. "I'm sure it hurt everybody. I'm not going to make excuses.
"Edgar had a great meet. You've got to tip your hat to him."
Prado missed the final day to ride favored Harlan's Holiday in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.
Bailey got off to a terrific start at the meet, winning 18 races in the first six days and putting him on pace to smash the Saratoga record of 55 victories he set last year.
"I knew that obviously I couldn't keep that pace up," he said. "I knew it wasn't over."
Bailey said the high point of the meet for him came in the first weekend when he narrowly won both the Test (gr.I) and the Diana (gr.II) on July 27. The next day he won the Go for Wand (gr.I) on Dancethruthedawn. The other Grade I's he won were the Travers and the Forego.
Bailey said low point came on Aug. 18 when he gave up a day of racing at Saratoga to ride Include in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park. Include didn't hit the board.
"Any time you go out of town from here, if you don't win it's very costly because you give up so much here you almost have to win to make it worth your while," he said.
Bailey said he will definitely ride again next year, then decide how long to continue his career. He smiled at a question about whether he would still be competing when he turns 50.
"That would be a stretch because of the time it would take away from my family," he said. "I don't have a child that is already grown. I have a child that is nine years old. I don't think you'd see me in the white pants at 50."Tired Bailey Earns Suspension
Bailey was handed a 10-day suspension Monday by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board steward for careless riding in the 10th race Sunday.
Since he did not appeal the suspension it was automatically reduced to seven days. The suspension will begin Tuesday and run through Sept. 9. He is eligible to ride in two designated stakes races at Woodbine Sunday, the Atto Mile and the Summer Stakes.
Bailey was given the days for an incident near the wire where his mount, Foreverness, drifted out near the wire, causing John Velazquez to check on Native Rhythm. Foreverness was disqualified from first and placed fourth.
"I just couldn't bring myself to appeal something that I knew I was guilty of," he said. "There was no gray area in my mind. I was at fault. That's the bottom line."
Bailey said the problem had a lot to with the fatigue of competing in the six-week meeting.
"I'm tired," he said. "The last race last night was an example of being tired. I made a mistake I should never make.
"I'm mentally tired. I always am at the end of this meet. Every year older you get, it seems like you're a little more tired. At least I am."Zito rebounds From Dismal 2001 Meet
Nick Zito completed a nice rebound this summer from
last year's dismal record of one victory.
Zito finished the season in third place in the trainer's standings with a 10-10-11 from 77 starters.
"I'm just gratified that we turned it around," Zito said Monday. "We worked really hard. I thought we worked really hard last year, too, but apparently we were very much prepared this year.
"We certainly didn't want it to happen again. And it didn't. We had a lot of good support. We had a lot of good owners backing us up."
Zito said part of the reason for his success is that his stable is based in Saratoga Springs at the Oklahoma training center from early May and into the fall.
"I think that helps, too," he said. "We're settling in. We know how to train up here with the Oklahoma. We know what we're doing. I think that helped us. Everybody shipped in. We had a little feel for what was going on and we got lucky."
Actually, the top two trainers at the meet, Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott, have divisions at Saratoga throughout the training season as well. Another Saratoga-based trainer, James Bond, was tied with three other trainers with nine victories.
Zito said his Travers (gr.I) horses, Quest and Nothing Flat, are headed in different directions. He expects owner Arthur Hancock to give Quest the rest of the season off and bring him back as a 4-year-old.
After a dull performance in the Jim Dandy (gr.II) in which he bled, Nothing Flat finished third in the Travers.
"Nothing Flat, I'll have to look for something with him," Zito said. "That Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr.I) is going to come up like you wouldn't believe. He can't run with those, Street Cry, Lido Palace, Repent."
Zito said races he is considering for Nothing Flat are the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) and the Super Derby.
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