03/25/2006 12:00AM

Hamilton, rider, calls it a career

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Maryland-based jockey Steve Hamilton, a winner of 1,199 races, announced his retirement on Friday. Hamilton, 32, had not ridden since last October because of weight problems.

Hamilton won the spring meet riding title at Pimlico in 2004 and 2005, and rode Malibu Moonshine to an eighth-place finish in the Preakness last year.

Among Hamilton's best mounts were Mz. Zill Bear, winner of the 1995 Maryland Million Ladies; Thomas Jo, who won the Tesio Stakes and Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in 1998; and the turf star John's Call.

Hamilton will continue to gallop horses at Laurel Park for trainer Jimmy Murphy and is now employed in the jockeys' room at the Maryland tracks.