Jockey Jerry Bailey, gets mount on Derby favorite Vindication.

Jockey Jerry Bailey, gets mount on Derby favorite Vindication.

Barbara D. Livingston

Bailey Replaces Smith on Vindication

Jerry Bailey has been named as the rider of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Vindication, replacing Mike Smith, trainer Bob Baffert said Friday.

Although Smith has never lost aboard the son of Seattle Slew, Baffert decided to make the switch, also naming Bailey to ride Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Composure.

"Vindication was supposed to be Jerry's mount last year, but he wasn't able to come ride him." Baffert said. "I've won a lot of big races with Jerry. This is a pressure situation, and Jerry has come through in big pressure situations before. I spoke to Mike about it before he heard it from someone else. I told him I feel bad, but it's strictly a business decision. Mike is a class act and he understood the situation, knowing he could eventually get back on the horse if Jerry doesn't like him. This is strictly my decision. I'm going by my experience and my instincts. I've got a lot of jinxes to break with this horse, and I just decided to give Jerry another opportunity to ride him.

"I know a lot of people are not going to be happy, but I can't worry about what people think. They'll talk about it for a week and that'll be the end of it. All I know is that I feel good about the decision. If Mike jumps on another horse and beats us, that's part of the game."

Baffert said Bailey will be in California (Saturday) to work Vindication, and that should give him an idea what he thinks of the horse. "Who knows, maybe Jerry won't like the horse, or maybe he'll feel he doesn't fit him. If that's the case, then Mike will get the mount back. In the meantime, Mike is still going to ride for me."

Baffet said Vindication could be ready to run in three weeks, but he still hasn't decided what path he's going to take to the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert also said he's pointing Norfolk Stakes winner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Kafwain to the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1. Truckle Feature will run in the 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes on Feb. 7. And Santa Catalina winner Domestic Dispute likely will wait until the San Felipe Stakes Mar. 16.