04/20/2010 11:00PM

Talamo shipping in to ride Floating Heart


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Jockey Joe Talamo won the first race he ever rode at Churchill Downs when he captured an allowance race on turf aboard a filly named Sugar Baby Love during Kentucky Derby week last year.

Talamo, a 20-year-old Louisiana native now based in Southern California, will be riding at Keeneland for the first time Thursday by accepting two mounts, including Floating Heart for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bewitch Stakes.

Talamo, who went on to experience the bitter disappointment of having what would have been his first Derby mount, I Want Revenge, scratched on the morning of Derby 135, said traveling to Kentucky always fires him up. Talamo is scheduled to ride Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy in Derby 136 on May 1.

"I'll ride the one day at Keeneland, come back to California, then be back for Derby week," he said. "This is a very busy and exciting time of year."

Floating Heart is one of seven fillies and mares in the 49th running of the Bewitch, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that anchors a nine-race Thursday card.

In her only try over the Keeneland turf, Floating Heart won a second-level allowance at 1 1/2 miles here last October. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway then raced four times over the winter, all on synthetic surfaces in Southern California, most recently finishing third behind the great Zenyatta in the March 13 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.

Floating Heart "ran some great races against some nice horses this winter," said Talamo, who also rides Macallan in the seventh race Thursday. "She seems to improve every start."

Besides Floating Heart, other major contenders in the Bewitch include Changing Skies, a sharp last-out winner of the Grade 3 The Very One over the Gulfstream Park turf for the Hall of Fame tandem of Kent Desormeaux and Bill Mott, and Lady Shakespeare, a classy stretch-runner trained by Roger Attfield.

The rest of the field is Nehantic Kat, A She's Adorable, Sweet and Flawless, and Magical Theater.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Elkhorn Stakes, the male counterpart to the Bewitch, will help close the 15-day Keeneland spring meet Friday. Brass Hat, Bearpath, Musketier, and Demarcation are among the 12 entered in the Elkhorn. Churchill starts its meet Saturday.