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Original Issue

Q+A Jerry Bailey

The 47-year-old Hall of Fame jockey is the author of the just published Against the Odds: Riding for My Life

SI: You've been sober since 1989 and your book details your alcoholism. How did your drinking affect your riding?

Bailey: I was never falling-down drunk when I went into the paddock to get on a horse, but toward the end I had some alcohol in my body at all times and I was far less than 100 percent.

SI: You won the Florida Derby on High Fly, and you'll ride him in the Kentucky Derby. Make a case for him to win.

Bailey: People have said that he's not bred to go that far, the extra eighth of a mile. But he has a lot of ones by his name, and that's always a plus for the Derby.

SI: You won the Derby on Sea Hero in 1993 and on Grindstone in '96. What is the most important factor in the race?

Bailey: Luck. I've seen a lot of the best horses not win because of bad racing luck. Now, you can enhance your luck by making wise decisions, but there are a lot of times when something that somebody else does in front of you dictates what you can or cannot do.

SI: If you could put together the ultimate horse race, which six would be in the field?

Bailey: Secretariat, Citation, Cigar, Seabiscuit, Silky Sullivan and Man o' War. I'd ride Cigar.

SI: Do you keep a book on other jockeys?

Bailey: I keep it between my ears. It's always been my contention that horses might change from race to race, but humans don't. Most jockeys fall into the same patterns. If you ride with them enough you get familiar with them. And if you pay attention, you can learn a lot.

SI: Should the Triple Crown season be lengthened to allow more time between races?

Bailey: The season is hard for a reason. There's a reason why only a handful of horses have been able to [win the Triple Crown]. If you start changing the rules now, it's unfair to the horses that have done the same thing in the past. --Richard Deitsch