10/19/2001 12:00AM

Paul Bailey, jockey, dead at 79

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Paul J. Bailey, a popular jockey who rode from 1944 to 1968, died Thursday morning of a malignant brain tumor at his home in Florida, a family friend said. Bailey was 79.

A native of Kentucky, Bailey rode his first winner at Mission Park in Oregon. He retired 24 years later with $5.9 million in career earnings and 1,788 victories.

Among his most memorable races, Bailey won the Travers Stakes in 1955 aboard Thinking Cap and the 1958 Gardenia Handicap on the champion filly Quill. He was also second in the 1951 Kentucky Derby aboard Royal Mustang, a 53-1 shot.