In more than 20 years of riding races, jockey Jamie Theriot has had some incredible experiences. Perhaps the best experience is awaiting him following the conclusion of the winter meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, when he moves to the Southern Hemisphere to ride full-time at Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Theriot, 38, will ride for Ramapatee Gujadhur, the champion trainer on the island off of South Africa in 2012 and 2015.
"I'm very excited and it's very humbling to get this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go experience something like this," Theriot said. "(Ramapatee Gujadhur) is on the same level as Chad Brown here in the United States. His operation is nothing but family. It came from his father to him and his sons are involved, but one is a lawyer and one is a doctor. I'm going to be around some great people."
Theriot explained how the opportunity was presented to him.
"The trainer and (Lane's End Farm owner) Bill Farish are really good friends, from what I understand," Theriot said. "Bill Farish sent (jockey) Robby Albarado an email and said, 'Try to find us a good American rider,' and Robby talked to me about it, called Bill, and told him, 'Jamie would go.' So they mentioned my name to the guy and he looked up my stats and he said, 'I want him.'"
The plan for Theriot is to ride in Mauritius for seven months and return to the United States to possibly ride at Fair Grounds.
"It works out perfect;" Theriot said. "I'll leave at the end of the meet and be back in November for Fair Grounds, if I want to ride (or) if I want to take off. It will be (emotional) leaving everyone here and going there, (but) it's not right around the corner. I know I'm not going there for years. I'm going for seven and a half months and back. (Gujadhur) said something about riding the jockey challenge while I'm there. It could open up opportunities in other areas and you never know what's waiting.
"I'll ride one day a week, all turf racing. This man is taking very, very good care of me, and I'll be bringing my boys and put them in school down there. I'll have to ride the other way, which is something that I'm going to get to experience. I think it's just like riding a bike. ... After I work a couple of horses going the wrong way and change a couple of tactics here and there, I think that I'll be fine."
Theriot is just four wins shy of reaching the 2,500 mark. He has been based at numerous circuits across the United States and has won riding titles at Evangeline Downs (2001) and Oaklawn Park (2003). His career highlights include victories in the 2010 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) aboard Dubai Majesty and the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G2T) on Chamberlain Bridge, both for trainer Bret Calhoun.