Jockey Joe Talamo, previously based in Southern California, has made a huge splash in his first season as an Oaklawn regular. Through Friday, the 37th day of the scheduled 57-day meeting, Talamo led all jockeys in stakes victories (six) and ranked second in purse earnings ($2,281,058).
“I really didn’t have any kind of expectations, to be honest,” Talamo, 30, said during training hours Saturday morning. “Obviously, I just wanted to come in and try to do as well as I could. More than anything, I’m just very pleased with the barns, the outfits, that have given me opportunities. Really, couldn’t be happier.”
Talamo’s six stakes victories through Friday had come for four trainers – Tom Amoss, Brad Cox, Ron Moquett and Mac Robertson.
Talamo won the $125,000 Dixie Belle for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 15 aboard Ring Leader (Robertson), $300,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies March 7 aboard Shedaresthedevil (Cox), $150,000 Hot Springs for older sprinters March 7 aboard Whitmore (Moquett), $350,000 Essex Handicap for older horses March 14 aboard Night Ops (Cox), $350,000 Azeri (G2) for older fillies and mares March 14 aboard Serengeti Empress (Amoss) and the $90,000 Gazebo for 3-year-old sprinters March 21 aboard Long Weekend (Amoss).
“Look, I’ve been supporting Joe since the meet began,” Amoss said moments after the Gazebo. “He’s the right guy for me.”
Talamo credited his agent, Jake Romans, the son of trainer Dale Romans, for putting him in a position to lead all riders at the meeting in victories and purse earnings.
“It’s kind of some interesting circumstances around,” Talamo said. “It’s funny. Last year at Santa Anita when we didn’t race for a month (the track was closed following a spike in equine fatalities), I thought that’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened. Going through this is weirder, by a landslide. Hat’s off to management. They’re doing everything they can for us to keep racing. They’re pretty relentless on us guys. We have to take temperatures twice a day. We can’t be too close to each other. We’re definitely doing our part so, hopefully, we can keep rolling.”
Talamo said he still plans to ride the Kentucky circuit after Oaklawn’s scheduled close, May 2.
Several marquee names had workouts over a fast track Saturday morning, including two before the surface renovation break for trainer Brad Cox. British Idiom, the country’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2019, worked a half-mile in :48.40. Clockers had the Eclipse Award winner galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:00.60. British Idiom is targeting the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) May 1 at Oaklawn for her next start. Warrior’s Charge covered a half-mile in :48 in advance of a scheduled start in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses May 2. Warrior’s Charge galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 and 6 furlongs in 1:13.80, according to clockers. Warrior’s Charge won the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 17 at Oaklawn in his last start. Night Ops, Cox’s Essex Handicap winner, worked a half-mile in :49.60. Also working before the break was Midnight Fantasy for trainer Joe Sharp. Midnight Fantasy, in company, went 5 furlongs in :59.40, her third published local work since winning the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older female sprinters Feb. 29 at Oaklawn. Sharp said Midnight Fantasy is pointing for the $125,000 Carousel Stakes April 25 at Oaklawn. Sharp said Classy Act, an allowance winner on the Spring Fever undercard, is a candidate for the Carousel … Jockey Stewart Elliott recorded his 4,943rd career North American victory aboard favored Cherished ($4) in Friday’s sixth race, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Elliott rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, their 14 victory in 30 starts together this year. The combo was 13 of 25 at the recently concluded Sam Houston meeting, where Elliott began riding earlier this month on Oaklawn’s dark days. Elliott said his agent, Scott Hare, encouraged him to ride at Sam Houston to begin laying a foundation for the scheduled Lone Star meet this summer. Asmussen is Lone Star’s all-time leading trainer. Cherished represented Elliott’s 10th victory this year at Oaklawn. … Jockey Walter De La Cruz entered Saturday with $989,827 in purse earnings at the meet. Six other riders had already reached seven figures at the meet through Friday – Day 37 of the scheduled 57-day season – including leader Ricardo Santana Jr. ($2,592,640). … Oaklawn ($5,006,500) surpassed $5 million in claims at the meet Friday. There had been 264 claims.