07/09/2013 2:39PM

Hollywood Park: Talamo tries to hold off Bejarano in race for leading rider

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Barbara D. Livingston
Joe Talamo holds a four-win advantage heading into the final week of racing at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jockey Joe Talamo begins the racing week at Betfair Hollywood Park on Thursday with a four-race lead in the jockey standings. He has ridden 50 winners, four more than Rafael Bejarano, the 2012 title holder.

The track’s spring-summer meeting ends Sunday. Talamo knows his lead is not safe.

Both he and Bejarano are capable of having multi-win days that can result in significant changes to the standings. Bejarano, 31, rode five winners June 14 and had four-win days on April 26 and 28. Talamo, 23, had four wins last Saturday and has ridden three winners on the same day four times at the meeting.

“It’s fun and to be in this situation is a good thing,” Talamo said last weekend.

If Talamo wins the title, it will be the first of his career at Hollywood Park, and first overall since the Santa Anita autumn meeting last year. Bejarano was the easy winner of the riding title at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting earlier this year.

At the current meeting, Talamo’s strength has been stakes races. He has won 10 stakes, compared with seven for Bejarano. That aspect of the riding title will be probably be decided by Saturday, a program with four stakes.

“I can’t believe the stakes this year,” Talamo said. “I’m happy with the way things are going. I feel more trainers are giving me an opportunity.”

Part of that can be attributed to the departure of Joel Rosario in June 2012. Rosario and Bejarano fought for riding titles at major meetings in recent years. With Rosario riding in New York, jockeys such as Talamo and Edwin Maldonado, who won the riding title at the Hollywood Park autumn meeting last year and is currently ranked third, have been given more chances.

Talamo knows that Rosario’s absence has helped his position in the standings, but said he is confident he would have contended for the title even with Rosario in Southern California.

“I feel like I could be there [in the standings] if he was here right now,” Talamo said. “If you don’t have the horse, it’s hard to do anything.”

Becky Lou takes shot at Oaks

In Saturday’s $350,000 American Oaks, Bejarano rides Scarlet Strike, who may go favored in the Grade 1 race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Scarlet Strike was second by a length to Sarach in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf June 8. Sarach is part of the American Oaks field and likely to set the pace.

Talamo rides Becky Lou, who was a troubled fourth in the Honeymoon Handicap. Ridden in that race by Tyler Baze, Becky Lou raced in traffic in the stretch and was beaten two lengths by Sarach. A Kentucky-bred who began her career in England, Becky Lou won her U.S. debut in a 32-1 upset in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in April.

Owned by Daniel O’Neill, Becky Lou is trained by Matt Chew, who seeks his first Grade 1 win in the American Oaks.

“I’m really pleased with her progress,” Chew said. “I think she’s coming into this race better than her last race. She seems a little bit stronger and bigger.”

The American Oaks field also includes Emollient, who won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April; Macha and Wittgenstein, who were third and seventh in the Honeymoon; and Topic, a maiden race winner on turf last month.

Diodoro fined $2,500

Trainer Robertino Diodoro has been fined $2,500 as part of a stipulated agreement with the California Horse Racing Board for a positive test for the Class 4 medications carbazochrome and tranexamic acid found in one his runners at Santa Anita earlier this year.

The positive tests were found in post-race tests taken from Mr. Bossy Pants, who won the second race Feb. 2, a $25,000 claimer for turf sprinters.

Carbazochrome is an anti-hemorrhaging medication. Tranexamix acid is a blood-clotting agent.

Diodoro, 39, was suspended seven days, but that aspect of the penalty was stayed provided that he does not have a similar violation through July 6, 2014.