Talamo Dominates Fair Grounds, Aims for New York

Apprentice jockey Joseph Talamo became the first apprentice on record to win a Fair Grounds riding title when he took home leading rider honors at the Louisiana track on closing day, March 25.

“It’s great [to win the title],” said the 17-year-old native of the New Orleans area who led the standings throughout the season after winning the meet opener Nov. 23. Talamo won the first title of his relatively new career.

“After I got off to such a good start here I began to realize I had a chance, but I didn’t really think that much about it. Now that the season is ending, it’s really starting to mean a whole lot. Of course, being a hometown boy, that makes it even more special.”

Talamo clinched his title with 119 wins, 25 more than veteran journeyman Robby Albarado, who is a six-time leading rider at the Fair Grounds and was this year’s runner-up. Thus far this year, Talamo’s mounts have earned $2,614,150, placing him seventh in the standings for purses earned in North America. He fell three wins short of equaling the record by an apprentice at a Fair Grounds meet of 122 set 32 years ago by Angelo Trosclair.

Talamo will now make a brief visit to California from March 29 to April 1 to ride for trainer Bobby Frankel at Santa Anita before making what he hopes will be a permanent move to the New York circuit. Looking to carve a niche in the riding colonies at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, Talamo has already made inroads with trainers like Richard Dutrow Jr., Steve Asmussen and Frankel. He will be represented by longtime agent Ronnie Ebanks, who has not managed a rider’s book since parting ways with Patrick Valenzuela 1 1/2 years ago.

“It’s the first time I’ve been this excited in a long time,” Ebanks said of his partnership with Talamo. “With his ability and the stats he’s been turning in, he’s going to catch the attention of every top guy in New York. I’ve already been pursuing business out there and the reception has been unbelievably warm. He’s going to be very well-backed when he rides there.”

Ebanks said he’s hoping to capitalize on the weak apprentice situation in New York, where Aqueduct’s inner track meet has failed to turn out a top bug boy this year. Talamo maintains his apprentice allowance until July.

“With him going in now with all of these stats plus the five pound allowance, he’ll have at least four months of riding in front of the top trainers; he’ll be very successful,” Ebanks said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

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