06/17/2014 3:01PM

For Talamo, Santa Anita meet title within reach

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Benoit & Associates
Joe Talamo, pictured with two-time Shoemaker Mile winner Obviously, leads the Santa Anita jockey standings with eight racing days remaining.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Joe Talamo has been in this situation before.

Last July, Talamo approached the final week of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with a four-win lead in the jockeys’ standings. He was winless in the final four days and was caught by Rafael Bejarano and Edwin Maldonado, who finished in a tie for first. Talamo was third, missing by one win.

There are two weeks left in the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting. Going into Thursday’s program, Talamo has 34 wins, good for a 10-win lead over Tyler Baze and a 12-win advantage over apprentice Drayden Van Dyke.

“We’ve still got two weeks,” Talamo said last weekend.

That’s Talamo’s way of acknowledging that the job is not finished with eight racing days to go. One difference this year is the absence of Bejarano, who injured a shoulder in a spill May 10 and is not expected back until July.

In a sense, Talamo said he wishes Bejarano was in action.

“It’s good when he’s here,” Talamo said. “I think he makes us all better riders. You have to ride a smart race to beat him.”

A riding title at this meeting would be Talamo’s first since the autumn meeting here in 2012. At the winter-spring meeting that ended in April, Talamo was a distant second to Bejarano, 93 wins to 54.

Last Saturday, Talamo had his best day of the year, winning four races, including two Grade 1 races – the Shoemaker Mile with Obviously and the Vanity Stakes with Iotapa. Obviously, who won the 2013 Shoemaker Mile, has become a personal favorite for Talamo and a gelding he hopes can win the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in November.

“I can’t say enough about that horse,” he said. “He keeps improving. I think that was the best race that he’s run.”

Talamo, 24, could have another big day Sunday. He is booked to ride Story to Tell in the $125,000 Santa Anita Juvenile over 5 1/2 furlongs and Sea Mona in the $125,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs. He does not have a confirmed mount in Saturday’s $200,000 Summertime Oaks for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles, a race run in past years as the Hollywood Oaks at Hollywood Park.

The subject of missing out on the title at the 2013 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting is one that Talamo does not avoid.

“It looked like we had it in the bag,” Talamo said. “We rode some good horses. The next day, I was focusing on Del Mar. You have to put that behind you.”

This year, the racing calendar in Southern California is different. After the Santa Anita meeting ends June 29, there are two weeks of daytime Thoroughbred racing at an expanded Los Alamitos facility from July 3-13 before Del Mar opens its summer meeting July 17.

Talamo has worked horses on occasion at Los Alamitos since the track was expanded from five furlongs to a mile last winter. The new layout there has a stretch that is more than a quarter-mile long. Talamo has the goal of being the leading rider there, too.
“I’m excited for that meet,” he said. “I think it will be a rider’s track. You need to have a patient ride.”