12/13/2006 1:00AM

Four DUI's land Perret in jail

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SHELBYVILLE, Ky. - Craig Perret, who has 4,415 career victories and was the 1990 Eclipse Award winner for top jockey, will be incarcerated during the holiday season while he serves the balance of a 120-day sentence stemming from four convictions for driving under the influence.

Perret, 55, began serving his term at the Shelby County Detention Center about a week after he was sentenced Sept. 8 for the DUI offenses. He is scheduled to be released in mid-January.

All of Perret's DUI convictions were in Shelby County, Ky., where he has lived since 1993. The first conviction stemmed from a DUI violation on April 21, 2002, and his last violation occurred on the night of Nov. 25, 2005, which was also the last day he rode in a race.

Perret's arrest record on file at the Shelby County Courthouse shows that his original sentence was three years but was amended to 120 days. Upon his release, Perret will begin serving a five-year probation. Any violation of the probation could result in his return to jail. His driver's license has been suspended for five years, and he has been ordered to attend alcohol-rehabilitation sessions upon his release.

A native of New Orleans who has ridden for nearly 40 years, Perret has never announced his retirement, but it is uncertain whether he will ride again. He refused a visitation request from a reporter this week.

Perret began his riding career in 1967, when he led all apprentices in North America in earnings. His most memorable victory came in the greatest year of his career, 1990, when he guided Unbridled to win the Kentucky Derby and he tied what was then a record by winning 57 stakes. His other career honors include four Breeders' Cup victories, a win in the 1987 Belmont Stakes aboard Bet Twice, and the 1998 George Woolf Memorial Award.

Perret, who is divorced and has two daughters and three grandchildren, long ago earned the reputation of a pick-and-choose jockey who was particularly strong in big-money races. He conceded in a lengthy Daily Racing Form article in January 2004 that his career path was quite different than most. Being choosy with mounts during the last 15 years of his career "is just something that has worked for me," he said. "I don't know if it could work for anybody else."