01/17/2006 12:00AM

Bailey to retire after Sunshine Millions

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Jockey Jerry Bailey will retire later this month, ending his Hall of Fame career ranked second in purses won.

Jerry Bailey, one of Thoroughbred racing's greatest jockeys, will retire from race-riding at the end of month, the Hall of Fame jockey confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Bailey was to officially announce his retirement during a conference call scheduled for noon on Wednesday.

Reached at his south Florida home on Tuesday afternoon, Bailey said, "I am retiring," after he rides at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. Gulfstream hosts its Sunshine Millions card that day, four stakes races at both Gulfstream and Santa Anita pitting Florida-bred horses versus California-breds. Bailey has mounts in three of the four stakes at Gulfstream.

Bailey has one mount on Thursday at Gulfstream and will ride this week and next week before retiring, according to his agent, Ron Anderson.

It is expected that Bailey will remain involved in racing through broadcasting. He is expected to work as an analyst for ESPN, the cable network which, among other events, will broadcast the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships this fall.

Bailey, 48, will retire as the sport's second-leading money earner of all time. He will enter his last two weeks of riding with $295,868,139 in earnings, just over $2 million shy of Pat Day's record of $297,912,019. Day, who is retired, rode his last mount in July. Bailey has 5,890 career victories.

Bailey owns the North American single-season record for earnings, compiling $23,354,960 in 2003. John Velazquez eclipsed the overall earnings mark in 2005, but that figure included his victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Bailey is a seven-time Eclipse Award-winning rider who was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1995. He has won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes twice each. His 15 Breeders' Cup wins are the most of any jockey and his BC earnings of $21,906,440 rank second behind Day. Bailey has won the BC Classic five times, including last October aboard Saint Liam.

"He's earned his spot in our history as probably being the best rider of our generation," said Anderson, Bailey's agent since the spring of 2000. "I'm happy for him that he got to this point where he's ready to move on."

Though he has ridden many great horses, Bailey will be most associated with Cigar, who tied a modern-day record by winning 16 consecutive races from October 1994 through July 1996. Bailey was aboard for the final 15 of those victories, including all 10 in 1995 when Cigar won Horse of the Year honors.

Bailey retires in part to spend more time with his wife, Suzee, and son, Justin. In recent years, Bailey has scaled back on his riding to be with his family.