Although he has a first call to ride Godolphin's Moon Ballad in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 27, Jerry Bailey will be aboard Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker if the colt turns in a another good work this weekend.
"At this point I ride Tommy (Godolphin trainer Tom Albertrani), but if Empire Maker works well this weekend and runs in the Gold Cup, Jerry will ride him," agent Ron Anderson said Wednesday. "I spoke to Tommy about the situation and he said, 'No problem, if Bobby jumps in, we'll just go with Johnny (Velazquez).'"
Bailey has begun his big fall push to break Mike Smith's record for stakes wins in a single year, set in 1994. Last year, Bailey's 67 stakes victories came up one short. This year, he already has 54, including 20 grade I races. Of those 54 stakes wins, 24 have been aboard Frankel-trained horses, as were 13 of the 20 grade I's.
"Last year, when we were one away from Smith's record, I told Jerry, 'We'll win 80 next year,' and he looked at me like I was crazy," Anderson said. If Bailey continues at the same rate he has been all year, it would put him up around 75 stakes victories.
In addition to Empire Maker, Bailey's big mounts in the major upcoming stakes include Wild Spirit, Sightseek, Heat Haze, Cuvee, Aldebaran, Silver Wagon, Spoken Fur, and Denon. All but two of those – the 2-year-old colts Cuvee and Silver Wagon – are trained by Frankel.
If Empire Maker does not run in the Gold Cup, Bailey will retain the mount on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner.