04/25/2007 11:00PM

Talamo's 3-win opening day stirs dreams


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Joe Talamo's introduction to Hollywood Park came in the form of a three-win day on Wednesday and at least a temporary place at the top of the jockey standings after the first day of the spring-summer meeting.

While Talamo, a 17-year-old apprentice, will be hard-pressed to hold that position through the end of the meeting, July 15, against riders such as Victor Espinoza, David Flores, and Richard Migliore, he was enjoying the milestone on the backstretch on Thursday morning.

"It was pretty quiet work-wise, but when I walked around people had nothing but great things to say," he said. "That was fantastic.

"At the Fair Grounds, I won the first race of the meeting. At Hollywood, to do that, it was the cherry on top of the ice cream."

Talamo arrived in California from his native Louisiana in late March, and has ridden here since then, aside from a week spent in New York. He had intended to ride in New York this fall, but opted to stay in California after a successful first week here.

Talamo finished the Santa Anita meeting with 15 wins from 76 mounts. Despite the limited time he was there, he finished tied for 18th in the standings.

"I had never really traveled before," Talamo said. "I loved it - the racing, the people, and the climate. It all added up.

"So many good riders have come here from Louisiana and done well - Kent Desormeaux, Eddie Delahoussaye, Mark Guidry, Ray Sibille. That was one more thing in the equation."

Wednesday, Talamo won the first race on Run for Dessert ($3.60), the fifth on Fleet Caroline ($9.20), and the sixth on Natural Phenomenon ($5).

His recent success, and the reputation he earned by winning the riding title at Fair Grounds, has left Talamo in high demand. He rides all nine races on Saturday's program, including Sound Breeze in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap.

On Sunday's 10-race California Gold Rush program, he has five mounts, including Lainies Lion in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes and Eastlake Avenue in the $200,000 Melair Stakes.

"My goal is to do the best I can do," he said. "Hopefully, that means I can be leading rider. I'll make mistakes along the way and that's how you learn."

Mistakes for rookie jockeys can come in many forms. Talamo has been suspended for three days next week - from Wednesday through Friday - for causing interference in the first race at Santa Anita last Sunday.

Charm the Giant to Gamely BC?

Charm the Giant, the winner of Wednesday's $100,000 Wilshire Handicap, will be considered for the $300,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes on May 28, trainer Ron McAnally said.

But McAnally is not too keen on taking on division leader Citronnade, a winner of three consecutive stakes since November. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Citronnade is bound for the Grade 1 Gamely.

"The timing is okay," McAnally said. But Citronnade "is a good filly."

McAnally described Charm the Giant's performance in the Grade 3 Wilshire as one of the best in her 13-race career. Ridden by Michael Baze, Charm the Giant was ninth on the final turn and rallied wide in early stretch. She won by 1o1/2 lengths over 13-1 Sohgol, finishing a mile on turf in 1:34.16.

"I knew I had a lot of horse," Baze said. "I felt so much underneath me."

Owned by McAnally's wife, Debbie, Charm the Giant has won six races and $287,834.

Charm the Giant, 5, is by Giant's Causeway out of Olympic Charmer, a mare the McAnallys campaigned. Olympic Charmer is kept at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, which is why Charm the Giant is an Irish-bred.

Olympic Charmer is not in foal this year, McAnally said. She was bred to George Washington in February, but the stallion has experienced fertility problems. She was subsequently bred to the 3-year-old Holy Roman Emperor, but has not been pronounced in foal, McAnally said.

Becerra shoots for stakes double

Dancing General and Getback Time give trainer Rafael Becerra a chance for a stakes double on Sunday's $1.3 million California Gold Rush program for statebreds.

Dancing General starts in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles on turf, while Getback Time is part of a tough field in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes for fillies and mares over seven furlongs.

Bettors can get in on Becerra's double as well. The Fran's Valentine and B. Thoughtful are the second and third races, and can be bet as a $2 daily double.

Becerra is most excited about the chances of Getback Time, who is seeking her first stakes win after placing in four stakes in the last year. A year ago at this time, Getback Time had beaten maidens in a $40,000 claimer, the day she was claimed by Becerra for a partnership.

This year, Getback Time has finished third in the Sunshine Millions Distaff and won two allowance race sprints against open company.

"She has learned a lot," Becerra said. "The longer they go, the more they learn. I don't like to push my horses."

The B. Thoughtful distance is a good fit for Getback Time. All six of her wins have come in sprints ranging in distance from six to seven furlongs.

"I think Getback Time" is my best chance, Becerra said. "I do think that Dancing General is a nice filly. I feel good with both of them."

Attendance, handle comparison

Attendance and handle figures were higher on Wednesday's opening day than the corresponding day of the 2006 meeting.

The all-sources handle of $8,385,703 was a 22 percent increase over the $6.8 million bet last year.

The ontrack attendance of 4,788 marked a 3 percent increase, and the ontrack handle of $1,268,269 marked a gain of 15 percent.

Handle benefited from large fields on Wednesday's card, with an average of 9.5 starters per race.