On August 2, 2012, what did Del Mar’s first, second, fifth, seventh, and eighth race have in common?
The winning horse in each one of these races was piloted by a 22-year-old jockey from Marrero, Louisiana. He rode past the wire victorious for the fifth time that day; Del Mar track announcer, Trevor Denman, proclaiming, “This day belongs to Joe Talamo!”
“That was a great day,” Talamo reflected. “I’ve had five before at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans as a bug boy and five at Hollywood, but never five at Del Mar. It was one of those days when everything worked out. I had great horses. Can’t do it without the horses.”
Joe Talamo with trainer Ron Ellis after winning the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, August 4, 2012
Stars over the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are in alignment for Talamo; not just having a stellar string of wins on one day, but also racking up victories in the $150,000 Swaps Stakes (GII) and the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (GI). Accumulating approximately $1.6 million in earnings, Talamo ranks third behind the accomplished jockey Rafael Bejarano and veteran rider Garret Gomez in the jockey standings at this current Del Mar meet.
Include Me Out, Joe Talamo aboard, wins the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1), Del Mar, August 4, 2012
With mountains still to climb, the ambitious young jockey has no time to savor his ongoing success at Del Mar - the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) is on the horizon. Talamo and his expected mount, Suggestive Boy, will face an ominous cast of competitors. Headlining the Pacific Classic are American racing’s heavyweights: Richard’s Kid, Game On Dude, Rail Trip, and Dullahan.
Victorious in two runnings of the Pacific Classic, Richard’s Kid represents the class and longevity of this field. Without the presence of the highly acclaimed Acclamation, due to a recent mild strain in his pastern, the 7-year-old Richard’s Kid is poised to be one of the favorites in this year’s Pacific Classic. He recently returned from an unsuccessful endeavor on the Dubai racing circuit. The Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (G1) showed him to be back on his game, placing 1 ½ lengths behind the leading older male, Game On Dude. He followed up that prestigious event with an impressive win in the 1 ½ mile Cougar II Handicap (G3), setting a track record time of 2:29.22. Richard’s Kid recently transferred from the Bob Baffert barn to the Doug O’Neil string as a result of him being purchased by a syndicate headed by Triple B Farms. However, he will start in the Pacific Classic with O’Neil’s assistant trainer, Leandro Mora, listed as his trainer, as O’Neil is currently serving a 45-day suspension.
Richard’s Kid gallops at Del Mar, July 17, 2012
The 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-u, Game On Dude, with jockey Chantal Sutherland is the presumptive favorite for the Pacific Classic. Despite finishing 12th in the Dubai World Cup earlier this year, Game On Dude has been an unrivaled graded stakes winner on the West Coast, taking the San Antonio Stakes (G2), Californian Stakes (G2), and most recently, the Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap. The Bob Baffert representative was fourth-best, beaten by a total of 4 ¼ lengths in last year’s Pacific Classic, but he could easily produce a winning performance this year.
Game On Dude in the paddock for the Californian Stakes (G2), Hollywood Park, June 2, 2012
Beginning his year with a fourth in the Los Angeles Handicap (G3), the 7-year-old Rail Trip must not be overlooked in this incredible Pacific Classic line-up. Rail Trip, back in the stable of Ron Ellis after an unsuccessful campaign in the Rick Dutrow shedrow, has always been in contention against strong fields such as this year’s Pacific Classic. He finished third in the 2009 Pacific Classic, and won that same year’s Hollywood Gold Cup by an assertive three lengths. In his final start leading up to the 2012 Pacific Classic, Rail Trip took the winner’s splendors of the San Diego Handicap (G2) by a half-length against a solid group of horses.
Rail Trip with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, wins the San Diego Handicap, Del Mar, July 28, 2012
The lone probable East Coast shipper, Dullahan, opposes these older males as the only 3-year-old starter in this field. Dullahan’s trainer, Dale Romans, looks to carry on his winning momentum just coming off a win with Little Mike in the Arlington Million Stakes (G1). The Pacific Classic represents Dullahan’s first start on a synthetic surface since his triumph in Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1). Dullahan followed up his Blue Grass victory with an impressive fast-closing third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), and enters the Pacific Classic off two lackluster efforts in the Belmont Stakes (GI) and Haskell Invitational Stakes (GI). Hopefully Dullahan hasn’t receded from his earlier form, as his two previous outings imply. If he is indeed fit enough in the Pacific Classic, Dullahan and Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux will present a challenge to the rest of the field.
Dullahan gallops at Belmont Park, May 30, 2012
Suggestive Boy (Arg) aspires to follow in the footsteps of the incredible 2007 Dubai World Cup winner Invasor as another wonder bred in Argentina. The 4-year-old Suggestive Boy, defeated only once in Argentina, has proven to be a force on the Southern California turf. He began his 2012 racing career in North America with a second behind Jeranimo in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1) and proceeded to take Del Mar’s one mile Wickerr Stakes by three-quarters of a length. Joe Talamo has been in the saddle for both of Suggestive Boy’s races in America under the care of famed trainer Ron McAnally. The 1 ¼-mile Pacific Classic is a stretch in distance for Suggestive Boy, who has been competing at one mile in his two-start 2012 campaign. Though he has raced exclusively on turf, the PolyTrack footing probably will be no concern since he got over the track well in a recent gallop. Suggestive Boy’s record suggests he could be capable of a formidable effort in the Pacific Classic.
Suggestive Boy gallops, Joe Talamo aboard, at Del Mar, August 10, 2012
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s storied past lingers in the air above the track, souls waiting to enshrine newly carved history. On August 26th, the commencement of this year’s Pacific Classic is poised to rank among the best races on American soil in 2012.
So … who do you think is going to have their mojo on?
Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo up, wins the Wickerr Stakes, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, July 25, 2012