08/11/2006 12:00AM

Bailey is glad the pressure's off

Jerry Bailey now works for ABC and ESPN, covering races like the Million.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association will pay homage to Saratoga's all-time winningest rider with a "Salute to Jerry Bailey" ceremony following Sunday's fifth race.

Among the activities planned are a three-minute video tribute with some of Bailey's greatest Spa rides, a presentation of a special gift from NYRA, speeches by trainer Bill Mott and jockey Angel Cordero Jr., and the unveiling of a new Choco Jocko Bailey ice cream.

Following the ceremony, Bailey will sign copies of a poster produced by Daily Racing Form. There is a $5 charge for the autograph, with the proceeds going to Anna House, a day-care center for backstretch employees that is located on the Belmont Park backside. Fans who pay for the autograph will also get a Bailey bobblehead doll.

Bailey, 48, won 693 races at Saratoga and won the riding title here seven times.

Bailey retired from race riding in late January and has started a new career as a racing analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports. Bailey was in Chicago for Saturday's ABC telecast of the Arlington Million, and was scheduled to fly back to Saratoga on Saturday night.

Bailey admitted that opening day of the Saratoga meet was the first time he missed riding. Bailey has spent the summer in Saratoga with his wife, Suzee, and son, Justin, but he said he has been an infrequent visitor to races here.

"I've kind of gotten through it," Bailey said Friday from Chicago. "I look at the [jockey] standings and I see that they're spread out pretty well, nobody's running away with it. I don't have any illusions that I'd be in front. I know the stress these guys have to go through every day to be at their very best, and that made me really absorb the fact that I don't miss the pressure. I did put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect at Saratoga every race."

Though Bailey won five races on Whitney Day in 1997, and has won countless graded stakes including the Travers three times, his fondest Saratoga memory came on July 27, 2002, when in a 71-minute period he won the Grade 2 Diana and Grade 1 Test, each by a nose for trainer Bobby Frankel.

"I felt maybe my rides made the difference both times - huge races, short margins," Bailey said. "What might not be so well known is the fact my performance for Frankel greatly influenced his decision as to who would ride Medaglia d'Oro [in the Travers]."

Bailey wound up winning the Travers on Medaglia d'Oro, one of 11 stakes he won here that meet.