How Chel-c Bailey went from MMA to horse racing

It is not uncommon to see professional athletes switch careers to a different sport. Some of the traditions make sense as athletes are choosing less physical sports for their late careers, and some of the traditions are very odd combining sports that should never go together.

Here we have another odd transition from a professional MMA fighter to a horse racing jockey.

In this case, we have Chel-c Bailey who abandoned her passion to become a top-notch MMA fighter and started to pursue her career as a jockey. This has proven to be a good choice, since people are now putting wagers on her to race and the return can be higher than in the ring.

It is quite unusual to see professional fighters becoming jockeys, but it seems like Chel-c was pushed by her passion for racing and because she enjoys horses and knows a lot of the horse facts by TwinSpires that you can find here. 

This has proven to be a good choice since she had acquired more success in horse racing compared to MMA.

About Chel-C Bailey

Bailey grew up near Seattle and ever since she was young, she showed signs of incredible athleticism and became the high school wrestling champion in Washington state. After reaching that level of success in wrestling she decided to pursue her fighting passion and wrestling at Yakima Valley Community College and Oklahoma City University.

A few years down the line, she transitioned to mixed martial arts, and her career start was very promising. After getting 3-0-0 in the first couple of fights everyone thought that she will be the new champion in MMA.

Bailey even appeared at the Ultimate Fighter 23 in 2016, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship reality TV series. 

However, her career in professional fighting was short-lived as she decided to abandon the championship in early 2018.

Transitioning to Horse Racing

After quitting MMA for more than a year, Bailey decided to make a huge change in her career. In 2019 she started her riding career in Canterbury Park, after working as an exercise rider for trainer Jenks Fries.

But what made her transition to horse racing?

Well, her love for horse riding wasn’t something new. In fact, Bailey grew up around horses in the Pacific Northwest, and her passion grew to the point where she was a professional MMA fighter and a rider for Jinks Fries at the same time. 

She loved riding horses even before she began her professional career as a fighter, and it seems like the horse-riding passion overgrew her passion for fighting.

Her professional riding career started in 2019, and right from the start she managed to claim her first win during the Oaklawn meet in 2020, and the first double the same year in November.

It seems like the decision to transition to horse racing was right for her as she was far more successful riding horses than fighting. 

Bailey went on to win Sunday’s first in “I feel the Need” trainer Mike Puhich and the second race abroad against the favored Rattrapente for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

In the course of over a year, she managed to get 10 victories pushing her to the top of the leaderboard for the best jockeys in horse racing.

In the first quartal of this year, she had an impressive start of the season establishing a yearly career record in purse earnings (around $300,000) and this is only for the first three months of 2022. 

Until now, Bailey has more than 47 professional career wins reaching career earnings of $1.5 million. It seems like her passion for horse racing and drastic career change were worth it after all. She managed to make a name for herself in the horse racing world, and every trainer and horse owner now wants her on the team.

If she continues at this pace, she will become one of the most successful jockeys of all time.