Jockey Joe Talamo celebrates win number 1,000 at Santa Anita.

Jockey Joe Talamo celebrates win number 1,000 at Santa Anita.

Benoit Photo

Joe Talamo, 22, Gets 1,000th Career Win

Young jockey left high school in Louisiana to pursue racing career at age of 17.

Jockey Joe Talamo reached recorded his 1,000th career victory April 5 when he guided 2-5 choice Splendid Fortune to a 7 1/4-length victory in the fourth race at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).

Splendid Fortune, who is trained by Bob Baffert for owner Arnold Zetcher, went gate to wire in the maiden special weight event for 3-year-old fillies. Making her second lifetime start, the daughter of Giant's Causeway  ran six furlongs in 1:09.02.

“That was fun. It’s nice to get it out of the way early,” said Talamo.

Talamo, a 22-year-old native of Marrero, La., has been riding on the Southern California circuit since the spring of 2007. He earned his first grade I victory that summer at Hollywood Park aboard Nashoba's Key in the 2007 Vanity Handicap.

As a youngster, he left high school to pursue a professional riding career, debuting at Louisiana Downs in 2006. He progressed rapidly and became the first apprentice jockey to win a riding title at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans in 2007. He came to California soon afterward.

“My mom was the one who gave me permission to ride at a young age but I had to tow the line,” said Talamo in an interview with HRTV. “It was ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am,’ or I got a whipping. I really have to give all the credit to my parents for letting me start at such a young age to do what I wanted to do, and it paid off. I left school when I was in the 10th grade and they’ve always supported me.”

Talamo won five grade I races in his first season in California and was named the Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top apprentice rider. Two of his biggest career wins have come in prestigious Kentucky Derby preps.  He won the 2009 Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct with I Want Revenge  and the 2010 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) aboard Sidney's Candy.

After his milestone win, Talamo jokingly acknowledged that his original plan was to only ride temporarily in Southern California five years ago, “but the weather’s so good out here I decided to stay.”

Talamo is currently fourth in the Santa Anita jockey standings with 39 wins following a cold start to the meet. He has established himself as one of the premier young riders in the country.

“He never says ‘no,’” said Scott McClellan, his agent for the past five years. “He’ll work any horse I ask him to, anytime and anywhere. He’s got a great work ethic and a great sense of humor. He’s fun to be around and always kidding. He’s really a pleasure to work for."

McClellan also pointed out Talamo’s willingness to avail himself to all kinds of media. “He’s a great ambassador for the game.  He’s always sending out stuff on Twitter or Facebook or e-mail. He’s always there for the press.”

Talamo was one of the jockeys featured Animal Planet's 2009 reality series, Jockeys.           

He has been named to ride longshot Blueskiesnrainbows  in the April 7 Santa Anita Derby. A Virginia-bred colt by English Channel , Blueskienrainbows is trained by Baffert and is 20-1 on the Derby morning line.