HENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) - Joe Talamo is one of a handful of new jockeys to Ellis Park this summer. The 2020 meet has attracted a plethora of top-name riders, like Talamo, Julien Leparoux, Rafael Bejarano, and Mitchell Murrill. Talamo recently moved his tack to the midwest, after riding several years, in California.
Horse racing is in Joe Talamo’s blood. The Marrero, Louisiana native, grew up around horses, because his father was an assistant trainer at Fairgrounds Race Course, in New Orleans. The first time Talamo hopped on a horse as a young boy, he was hooked.
“I went out to the track with him, I had to be about 7 or 8 years old”, said Talamo, “Obviously you look at a jockey, and myself at the time, I was riding horses, and you coordinate the two. I’m like, man I think I wanna do that. The more I started going to the track with my dad, it just sparked my interest and I fell in love with it.”
Talamo began riding quarter horses, then eventually thoroughbreds, and at the age of 16, kicked off his professional riding career, as an apprentice jockey at Louisiana Downs. In 2007, he became the first apprentice jockey to win a riding title at the Fairgrounds, and then moved to California, where he predominantly raced, until late last year. Over that time, he accumulated over 20 grade one wins, and won more than 2,000 races. Early this year, he decided to move back east, where he rode meets at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs, before coming to Ellis Park.
“It’s actually been a really easy transition, just because even though I was in California for 13 or 14 years, I never lost sight of where I started from or where my roots were in Louisiana,” said Talamo. “So it’s kind of given me a little bit of a spark so to say, because it kind of brought me back to my childhood.”
And Talamo hopes he can continue his success, here in the midwest.
“I’ve been very blessed to be around some very special people in my life that have not only made me successful being a jockey, but as a person as well,” Talamo said. “I’ve just been very blessed to ride for some very good owners, trainers.”
Now, fans can now see Talamo riding at Ellis, all summer long, but starting Monday, July 6, every guest who comes to Ellis Park, will be required to wear a mask, unless they are smoking, eating, or drinking, at their reserved table.