01/01/2005 1:00AM

Anderson: One agent for two riders


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Ron Anderson has a small problem. As the agent for two of the most successful jockeys in the world, Anderson has to find each of them enough business at Gulfstream Park to keep both of them happy and fulfilled.

Everyone should have such problems.

Anderson, who since April 2000 has represented the most successful North American jockey of the last decade, Jerry Bailey, has also begun booking mounts for Kieren Fallon, the Irishman who has dominated the rider standings at major tracks in the United Kingdom since 1997. By riding at an American track on a daily basis, Fallon is attempting something rarely tried by a European jockey, and it is his adventurous experiment that represents one of the more intriguing aspects to the 86-day Gulfstream meet that starts Monday.

For Anderson, being sought out and hired by Fallon is yet another coup in a 32-year career as a jockey agent. Born in Las Vegas and raised in El Monte, Calif., a small town near Santa Anita, Anderson, 50, has become the unofficial top dog of American agents, a stature that took a veritable lifetime to attain.

"There's not a lot of magic to this business," he said. "It takes time and it takes work, but the rider is always the catalyst. Fortunately, I've been in the right spots to make a pretty good go of it."

Anderson, who has an easygoing demeanor that belies his strong work ethic, is very well-liked and respected among horsemen and his fellow agents. It has taken years for him to develop the network of connections that now allow him immediate access to virtually all the top trainers in American racing.

"A lot of this business is about relationships," said Anderson, whose former clients in California included Fernando Toro, Russell Baze, Gary Stevens, and the late Chris Antley.

"I really enjoy getting up in the morning and going out and interacting with the people," Anderson said. "I also enjoy going to the races, which some agents don't really like. I'd like to think I know how to gamble a little bit, which is one of the many important aspects to this industry. There actually are a lot of different realms to this industry, and that's a big part of what makes this such a great game."

Fallon, who turns 40 next month, had grown weary of certain aspects of European racing, namely the downtime in winter and the high travel demands during the busy seasons. Through Barry Irwin, president of the Team Valor ownership syndicate, Fallon contacted Anderson upon deciding that he wanted to ride on a daily basis at Gulfstream and quite possibly into the spring, summer, and beyond at other American tracks.

Expectations as to how Fallon will fare at Gulfstream seem to range widely. Many American racing fans believe that while European jockeys may excel on grass, the surface on which the vast majority of European races are conducted, they are at a big disadvantage in races on dirt.

Get ready for a surprise, said Anderson.

"Kieren has years and years of experience riding on the dirt in Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai, all sorts of tracks around the world," he said. "He's a world-class grass rider, but he also is extremely capable on the dirt."

When an agent is working for two top jockeys, there is always the possibility for rancor and misunderstandings among the triangle. But Bailey, who has said 2005 might be his last year of riding, said he gave Anderson his blessing to take Fallon's book.

"It was fine with me when Ron discussed it with me some time ago," said Bailey. "I don't think Kieren and I will really interfere with each other. Kieren is a top-quality rider, and Ron taking him might actually work to my advantage in certain spots. If I'm out of town, then he could possibly jump on some of my mounts and keep them tied up for me for down the road."

Anderson cited a memorable example of how that worked perfectly for him with the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Charismatic when he had both Stevens and Antley at the same time in the spring of 1999.

"Wayne wanted Gary for Charismatic but we already had another mount," said Anderson. "That's how Chris ended up on Charismatic," who became the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. "Sometimes you can really tie things up, keep them in your own house, and monopolize business."

After Anderson became his agent, Bailey won four straight Eclipse Awards for top jockey (2000-03) and was leading the 2004 money-won standings before being injured in early September. Clearly, their business arrangement has been mutually beneficial, and now, with Fallon on the scene and Bailey's retirement growing ever closer, the men are entering another dimension.

"Nobody should read too much into what this means about Jerry retiring, because he's already said he won't know when that is until it happens," said Anderson. "Business already is looking good for both my jocks here at Gulfstream. With Kieren, he's just trying something different. I get the feeling that if he catches on, he could be around for a while."