Bailey lays groundwork for post-riding career

Updated: December 13, 2005, 11:11 AM ET
By Bill Finley | Special to ESPN.com

Jerry Bailey has yet to decide whether or not he will ride in 2006, but he has already laid the groundwork for his post-riding career. According to multiple sources, Bailey is close to reaching an agreement with ESPN and ABC to work as an analyst on racing telecasts for both networks when he does retire.

Bailey declined to reveal the name of the network he is negotiating with, but admitted that television is most likely in his future. He said that there is no timetable set for when he will begin his television stint and that the networks have agreed that he can ride in 2006, if that is what he decides. Bailey said he has told his agent, Ron Anderson, to prepare for the upcoming Gulfstream meet, which opens Jan. 4, but added that that is no guarantee he will remain active.

"I've got the luxury that if I do TV work, it won't start until February or March and I'm in Florida anyway," Bailey said. "So, I don't have a hammer hanging over my head where I have to make a decision geographically to go somewhere. But it's possible that I won't even ride at Gulfstream. It all depends on how my mind-set is when I finish my vacation."

Bailey, 48, has been mulling retirement in recent years. He traditionally does not ride between Thanksgiving weekend and the opening day of the Gulfstream meet and uses that time away from the track to contemplate his future plans. He will spend Christmas at his home in Saratoga Springs, NY and hopes to reach decision while he is there. ESPN and ABC are owned by the same parent company and both telecast racing. ABC's lineup in 2006 will include the Belmont Stakes, the Dubai World Cup and a number of major preps for the Kentucky Derby. Still another possibility is that Bailey will continue to ride in 2006 and will also make television appearances when he is not scheduled to ride in the race that is being covered.

• Bill Finley is an award-winning horse racing writer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated.
• To contact Bill, email him at wnfinley@aol.com