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HRN Original Blog:
Race Talk with the Girl Next Door

The Cajun Invasion

When we think about jockeys, our thoughts immediately go to the ones we watch at Santa Anita or Churchill, but when we think about their beginnings our thoughts wonder to Louisiana. This state has a reputation for churning out great jockeys. In recent years, we have seen numerous Triple Crown winning jockeys that credit Louisiana as their home state. The wins don’t stop there, many of the Louisiana jockeys have come through in the Breeder’s Cup and the Dubai World Cup.
Fan favorite Calvin Borel hails from Catahoula, LA. Although he calls Kentucky home now, he started off at the bush tracks in Louisiana. He started riding at the age of 8 dropping out of school to pursue his dream and enhance his talent. I read once that Borel raced against anything that they could put on the back of a horse on the Bush Tracks, including a chicken, since then he has won 3 Kentucky Derby’s and a Preakness.  The road to greatness took him through Evangeline Downs, Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park. Although it took some time (winning his first grade 1 in 2006) he has become racing’s ‘it’ jockey by guiding Street Sense to victory in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. He followed those accomplishments up on top of Rachel Alexandra in 2009, winning the Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Haskell and Woodward. These, along with his second Derby win with long shot Mine That Bird rounded off a year that definitely should have given him Jock of the Year honors. Anyway, he was slighted that year, but bounced back in 2010 to win his third Derby in four years. He has been racing for almost 30 years and is less than 100 wins away from 5,000.
Up and comer Joe Talamo also hails from the jockey star-studded state of Louisiana. He broke into the racing scene when he moved his tack from Louisiana to California in 2007. He started his young career at Louisiana Downs and then moved into the spotlight when he became the first apprentice jockey to win the riding title at Fairgrounds. 2007 was the year that would see him crowned Apprentice Jockey of the Year.  In 2009, Talamo was one of the jockeys chosen to star in the reality show “Jockeys”. That year also gave Talamo his first Derby hopeful; scheduled to ride Gotham winner I Want Revenge but he was scratched out late. Talamo was not able to ride in the Derby, but he did win his first Breeder’s Cup that year aboard California Flag. He is less than 100 wins away from 1000 and we have only been counting since 2006. Talamo is a name we will hear more and more in the future.
Next up is Robby Albarado…this talented Cajun from Lafayette started his career at Evangeline Downs. Since then he has ridden horses such as Mineshaft and Curlin. He has won races like the Preakness, Woodbine Mile, Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Oh, almost forgot about the Dubai World Cup. In addition to his great races and great horses, he was the recipient of the George Woolf award in 2004 and is a part of the Fairgrounds Racing Hall of Fame. He is the leader in riding titles at Fairgrounds with seven despite his history of injuries. Hopefully, his future will be injury free so we can see him add to his 4000+ wins. Another important note about Albarado is the charity he established in 2007, the Robby Albarado Foundation. The foundation was established to help the youth of Albarado’s now home of Louisville, KY. Despite a turbulent year, I have not lost the faith in Albarado and think the Breeders Cup is just the place for him to bounce back this year.
Finally, there is my favorite Cajun country native…The Riot, Jamie Theriot. This talented jockey has been flying under the radar since his start in 1996. Since then he has won a riding title at Oaklawn and Evangeline Downs. There was also the meet record that he put up at Fairgrounds with 94 wins in 2007. Along the way, he managed to pick up over 2000 career wins, including two Breeder’s Cup in 2010. He has been in the Preakness and the Belmont, but has yet to see the Kentucky Derby. This young jock has time though. His greatness shines through when nobody is watching; he will take a few graded stakes and at a big price. He is one of racings best kept secrets; there are so many things people don’t know about him. He was the original jockey of 2010 Classic Winner Blame and turf superstar Euroears just to name a few. He is the regular rider for Chamberlain Bridge and I can’t wait to see them defend their title at the Breeder’s Cup this year. This jockey will always be one of my favorites and I see nothing but success in his future.


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Older Comments about The Cajun Invasion...

Eddie D was defintely a class act..met him and his agent at the time ex jockey Terry Lipham..nice guys. Miss his patented late stretch running rides!
You need to read the book "Cajun Racing" by Ed McNamara. It describes the success of the Cajun riders, and how they came to be.
It's amazing how many good, make that great, riders have come out of Louisiana over the years ... Eddie Delahoussaye was my favorite.

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Meet Angela D'Amico
My horseracing journey and my quest to learn more about it has brought me to the University of Louisville Equine Program, but it began before I was born. My parents met when their parents shared ownership in a few racehorses. Although they did not own any horses when I was growing up, my grandfather still took me to the racetrack all throughout my childhood. In 2007, my stepfather introduced me to different racetracks and handicapping techniques, but it was not until the 2009 Preakness that I was really hooked.
A filly, Rachel Alexandra, venturing into a man’s world caught my eye and I fell in love with her completely. This was when my life changed. When it comes to racing and choosing my favorite horses, I have always seen perfection in what others would characterize as flaws. With this blog, I hope to show everyone that horseracing is not just a gamble, it is a passion.

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