- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

ELMONT, N.Y. — Jerry Bailey was having one of those days jockeys dread but accept as a part of the business. In possibly his final Breeders’ Cup, Bailey’s mounts yesterday at Belmont Park included four favorites, but entering the eighth and last race of the program, he was without a victory.

Bailey wasn’t going to go out with a whimper, however. His final mount was 5-year-old Saint Liam, who made a strong case to be named horse of the year with a one-length win over Flower Alley in the $4.68million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

This wasn’t a new situation for Bailey, though much more likely. In the 1993 Breeders’ Cup, Bailey, without a victory, went to the paddock to ride French horse Arcangues. He had never been on the horse and because he didn’t speak French and the horses’ handlers didn’t speak English, no instructions were given. No matter; Bailey won the Classic at odds of 133.60-to-1, the longest shot ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

“In 1993, I was striking out in every race, but Arcangues pulled me through,” Bailey said. “I certainly wasn’t looking at a 99-1 on [Saint Liam], so I didn’t have my bottom lip dragging on my way to the paddock.

“Just because you think they’ll run well doesn’t mean they will, and even if they do, there might be other horses that run better.”

Bailey, 48, said he will decide during the holidays whether to retire. He’s already in the Hall of Fame for a career that includes six Triple Crown races and a record 15 Breeders’ Cup races, including five Classics.

“I’ve always thought that one horse wouldn’t make my mind up one way or the other,” he said. “It’s wonderful to do these kinds of races, but I have a family I miss a lot. There’s a lot to be weighed out.”

Bailey expected Saint Liam, the post-time favorite, to run well, and he did, overcoming an outside post (No.13) and a start that saw him veer outside, losing even more ground. Owner William Warren said Saint Liam, 9-for-20 in his career, will be retired to stud.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. captured his first two Breeders’ Cup wins — he also won the Sprint with Silver Train. Before yesterday, the only way the 54,289 fans in attendance would have known about Dutrow was his 60-day suspension earlier this year for giving his horses illegal medication. Eight years ago, he was living in a Belmont Park barn.

“It was a bad scene,” he said. “I didn’t have any horses, and I was sitting in a really bad spot. But I knew I could train horses, and I knew I could make it in New York. I knew if I left, I’d be a failure. I stayed and I made it.”

Saint Liam covered the 11/4 miles in 2:01.49 seconds and paid $6.80, $5.10 and $4.20. Flower Alley was followed by Perfect Drift, Super Frolic and Suave.

Bailey’s plan entering the race was to get Saint Liam inside as soon as possible to save ground. That changed right after the starting gate opened.

“When a horse does something out of the ordinary during the break, the last thing you want to do is jerk him around because the horse has a tendency to get [rattled],” Bailey said. “I didn’t want to start the engine too soon knowing I had a mile-and-a-quarter to go.”

Saint Liam recovered quickly and was never worse than fourth from the quarter pole forward. Down the back stretch, Bailey was confident he could catch and pass the three horses in front of him. Behind him, only Borrego, a good closer, could develop into a threat. But Borrego never fired, gaining only two spots during the final half of the race to place 10th.

In the upper stretch, Saint Liam caught Flower Alley, who was running to his inside. With a furlong left, he took the lead for good and with a couple taps from Bailey gradually pulled away.

“Knowing it was a mile-and-a-quarter, I don’t think you can expect those same kinds of explosions down the stretch because it’s more of a long, grueling race,” Bailey said. “Flower Alley was another good horse, and I couldn’t dismiss him.”

Flower Alley stated his case that he — not Preakness/Belmont winner Afleet Alex — should be voted 3-year old champion.

“I think he should be [3-year old champion],” jockey John Velazquez said. “The Breeders’ Cup is the best of the best, and he ran a mile-and-a-quarter against older horses and almost won it.”

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