03/04/2007 12:00AM

Talamo to ride in New York

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Joe Talamo, the sensational apprentice who is leading the Fair Grounds jockey race by a clear margin with three weeks to go, will ride in New York after the completion of the Fair Grounds meet, which ends March 24.

The 17-year-old rider, who had 94 wins at Fair Grounds going into Saturday's racing, will head to Aqueduct instead of following the circuit to Kentucky as he had previously planned.

Talamo will be switching agents, leaving Tony Martin for Ronnie Ebanks, who has represented the well-known riders Shane Sellers, Pat Valenzuela, and Jorge Chavez.

"Tony is the reason I'm leading jockey," said Talamo. "I owe him everything, but this is something new I'd like to try. I will have the bug until July, and this is a chance I'd never even dreamed of. . . . Hopefully I'll be able to hold off Robby [Albarado] to win the jockey title here, and then I'll try to take another step up."

Talamo consulted with Martin before making the decision, and also with Albarado, the defending champion jockey at Fair Grounds who has been about 20 wins behind Talamo after arriving a couple of weeks after the meet had begun.

"I told him to expect the competition to be a lot tougher," said Albarado. "But I think he'll do well up there. I think he's ready to take it to the next level."