Jack Bailey, 81, Vernon Downs' all-time driving champion, died Aug. 16 after a long illness. It's the end of an era for a Hall of Fame horseman who reigned supreme during the years 1959-1978 and ranked among the Standardbred sport's leaders in races won, fast miles and money earnings.
In addition to his Vernon success, Mr. Bailey won driving titles at Hollywood Park in California, Washington Park in Illinois and at New York's Batavia Downs. He remains Vernon's all-time driving champion with 16 titles (12 percentage and four dash-winning).
He was a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame and the Upstate New York Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers' Association Hall of Fame, as well as a multiple nominee to the sport's Hall of Fame in Goshen.
His favorite horse was the pacer Bye Bye Max, who stood at stud at the Bailey Farm in Vernon following his outstanding racing career. He also stood the successful pacer J J's Biltmore at the farm.
Although racetrack injuries shortened Mr. Bailey's brilliant career, he still managed to record 3,323 driving victories.
Mr. Bailey is survived by his wife, Madeline; sons, Jim (Tammi), Bill (Ann), Jeffrey (Amy), daughter, Jaclyn; grandchildren, Sheena, Nicole, Sarah, Jack, Phoenix, Leon, Ian, Jamie, Jim, one sister, Nancy Myers; and several great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be in Vernon at Malecki's Funeral Home on Monday (Aug. 18) from 5-8 p.m., with burial on Tuesday (Aug. 19) in the area's Maple Grove Cemetery. (By Jim Moran)