11/05/2002 1:00AM

Two riding records in Bailey's reach


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - With just under two months left in the year, jockey Jerry Bailey is poised to break two single-season records.

Bailey's victory on Tates Creek in Sunday's Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita was his 60th stakes victory of the year, leaving him six shy of Mike Smith's one-year record of 66 set in 1994. Moreover, Bailey's mounts have earned $21,756,194, a mere $1.1 million off the record $22,857,720 that he established in 2001. Both figures represent money earned for winning the Dubai World Cup, a race Bailey won in both 2001 and 2002.

All told, Bailey has won 13 Grade 1 races, 12 Grade 2's, 16 Grade 3's and 19 listed stakes this year. With 60 wins from 207 mounts, Bailey has won 29 percent of the stakes races in which he has ridden. At 202 for 790, Bailey has won 26 percent of his overall starts this year.

By comparison, Edgar Prado ranks as the second-leading money earner with $16,843,979, and has won 266 races from 1,405 mounts.

Bailey did not ride in New York on Tuesday, but his agent, Ron Anderson, said the records are something he and Bailey would like to get.

"We're in a little bit of a slowdown mode right now, but I'd like to break it," Anderson said. "We're this close, why not? When you're in a position like he is, things like this keep you going."

While Bailey will not ride every day the last seven weeks of the year, he will not take any extended vacations either.

"I don't think he wants to physically do that or business-wise do that," Anderson said. "We're available on weekends and I'll be here quite a few weekdays. He's still going to ride."

Bailey's next stakes mount will come on Saturday when he is scheduled to ride a horse - presumably Strawberry Blonde - for Christophe Clement in the $100,000 Athenia Handicap at Aqueduct. On Nov. 16, he will ride at Calder, which will run six stakes that day.

Volponi: See you next spring

Volponi, the longshot Breeders' Cup Classic winner, will not race again this year, trainer Phil Johnson said Tuesday. Johnson had considered running him back in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 30, but opted against it.

"I think enough is enough," Johnson said. "I shortened him up, I stretched him out, and he did everything right. I just have no interest in it."

Volponi remains in training, galloping on good weather days and jogging when the weather is bad. Johnson said Volponi would most likely not run again until May at Belmont Park "with no goal until he gets a race into him."

Meanwhile, Johnson is getting Volponi's half-brother ready to run. Gentle Nudge, a son of Pleasant Tap, worked five furlongs in 1:02.43 Wednesday over Belmont's training track. "He doesn't have enough running on his mind yet," said Johnson, who said Gentle Nudge probably wouldn't debut until early 2003.

Babae seeks Athenia repeat

Babae, who won the faster division of last year's Athenia Handicap, will seek a repeat win Saturday when she starts as the 120-pound highweight in the Grade 3, $100,000 turf event for fillies and mares.

A 6-year-old daughter of Barkerville, Babae has won three of six starts this year including a three-length victory in the Grade 3 Violet Handicap on Sept. 20 at The Meadowlands.

Babae, owned by Joseph Platt, was going to be sold at Sunday's Fasig-Tipton November sale, but was withdrawn. "They were telling Joe she was going to bring $600,000 or $700,000," trainer Frank Alexander said. "I told him to have them guarantee that much. She probably would have brought $400,000 or $500,000. [Platt] likes to race, she's sound, she seems to get better with age - why not keep her?"

Part of the reason Babae is enjoying success this year is because she has learned to settle, something Alexander said he has been trying to teach her to do since he got her three years ago. Alexander said Babae would most likely run again next year.

A full field is expected for the Athenia, including Secret River, Strawberry Blonde, Love N' Kiss S., Polygreen, New Economy, Salty You, Cruise Along, Eventail, Silver Rail, and possibly Golden Corona, High Lady, and Miss Gazon.

* Gygistar, who was forced to miss the Breeders' Cup Sprint with an injured left front hoof, will not make the Grade 1, $300,000 De Francis Memorial Dash on Nov. 16 either, trainer Mark Hennig said Thursday. Hennig said the injury is improving, but Gygistar still has not made it back to the track. Hennig said the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 "is a thought."

* As of Tuesday, the New York Racing Association has returned more than $50 million to bettors since instituting a lower takeout rate on July 24, 2001. "We are excited to reach this figure in just under 16 months," said Bill Nader, a NYRA senior vice president. "It has long been thought that lower takeout would encourage bettors and stimulate more interest in playing the horses. That has, without question, been the case."