Jockey Joe Talamo, two shy of his 2,000th career victory, is scheduled to ride four mounts on Saturday in quest of the milestone.
Records show Talamo, 29, won No. 1,000 on April 4, 2012 in the fourth race at Santa Anita aboard Splendid Fortune, an Arnold Zetcher homebred trained by Bob Baffert. The 2-5 favorite won by seven lengths. Talamo had been in California for five years, arriving in 2007 as a 17-year-old apprentice after becoming the first “bug boy” to win a riding title at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
A lot has changed for Talamo personally, and Southern California racing, since No. 1,000.
He took a day off from racing during the 2015 Bing Crosby meeting to marry Elizabeth Ellis, daughter of trainer Ron Ellis, in a San Diego ceremony. An anniversary looms for the couple, who now have two sons.
And it's no secret Southern California racing has downsized since Talamo hit four figures in victories.
“We used to win 180 to a couple hundred races a year. This year we've won like 70,” Talamo's agent, Scott McClellan, said Saturday morning. “We've ridden around 500 horses, we used to ride 1,200. That's the difference in lack of racing and lack of horses. We're riding two or three a day when we used to ride seven or eight.”
The Equibase statistics bear it out. In 2012, Talamo had 208 wins from 1,256 mounts. This year the numbers are 72 wins from 496 mounts.
And approaching a milestone adds pressure.
“When I told him he was 20 out, he said 'I wish you wouldn't have told me, now it will take forever,” McClellan said. “We got to within six, but then the last four have taken awhile.
“We know it's going to happen. Four of his last six have been seconds and they all looked at one time like they might win. We'll see. We're just hoping to get it over with, but they don't come easy.”
Talamo's mounts on Saturday are: Rocky Tough (2nd, 4-1), Tequila Joe (5th, 4-1), Paige Anne (6th, 5-1), and Courteous (7th, 5-1.
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