Apprentice jockey C. J. McMahon
has only been riding professionally at recognized race tracks for nine
months, but he’s already shown that he knows how to make a good first
youngster accepted the first mount of his fledgling career on April 6 –
opening day of the 2011 season at Evangeline Downs – and then went
on a to win his first race on that day. However, he kept on winning
after that, enjoying his summer as a 16-year-old, when most boys get
their first driver’s licenses, by visiting the winner’s circle
repeatedly for a record that increasingly demanded attention,
even from the more discerning horsemen steeped in the rich history of
horseracing in their Cajun environs.
when November came around, the Lafayette-born teenager began the month
by celebrating his 17th birthday and then gave himself a noteworthy
late birthday present by riding two winners during Thanksgiving’s
Opening Day program at Fair Grounds, including the 100th of his career.
Sunday, McMahon proved that December hasn’t stopped him – posting a
four-win afternoon equaled only at this Fair Grounds session by jockey
Rosie Napravnik, Fair
Grounds’ leading rider last year. Entering Wednesday’s races, McMahon
was third in the Fair Grounds standings behind Napravnik and James Graham.
Those are the sort of teenage antics that could make a mother proud, and indeed she is, living with him at a
Metairie apartment to oversee his first professional winter in The Big Easy.
was here at the races on Opening Day,” said McMahon, speaking while
downing a quick breakfast at the track kitchen during the break in
training hours Wednesday morning. “She was very happy for me that day,
and she supports me a lot, but that’s no matter what I do – win or
Not surprisingly, McMahon comes from a racetrack family. His grandfather was small and rode some races at unsanctioned tracks in
while his father, who shares his first name of Charles, is a
still-active Quarter Horse jockey who has also ridden Thoroughbreds. But
this young man is
Charles Jantzen McMahon, while is father’s full name is
Charles Warren McMahon.
been riding horses since I was eight years old,” explained the younger
McMahon. “I started learning to gallop Quarter Horses by working
with my dad and grandpa. But I’ve really learned a lot since I started
riding professionally and I’ve also learned a lot more since I’ve come
to Fair Grounds this season.
“Now, what I want to do is to keep on learning, win as many races as I can and stay healthy,” McMahon concluded.
Of course, every good student has a good teacher, and McMahon is quick to credit fellow Cajun-born reinsman
Kerwin “Boo Boo” Clark with fulfilling that role.
Asked to evaluate his pupil, the 36-year veteran Clark shared some of his teaching methods.
“We watch a lot of film together,” said
Clark. “That’s the most important thing
we do, by far. I don’t just tell him what he’s doing wrong when he
makes a mistake, but what he’s doing right when he does something well.
But we watch the other riders, too, and I show
them what they might have done wrong or what they’ve done right to help
them win a race.
“He listens to me,” said
Clark. “He’s anxious to learn, and
that’s why I continue to work with him the way I do. He has a lot of
ability, and horses run well for him. As long as he continues to have
the right attitude and continues wanting to learn,
he should have a tremendous future in this game.”
Both McMahon and Clark enjoy the services of
Tony Martin as their agent, and that Louisiana-born legendary agent brought the then-developing 16-year-old apprentice
Joe Talamo to Fair Grounds
to win the first race of the 2006-2007 Fair Grounds session and go on to
be Fair Grounds’ jockey champion that season. That native of
Marrero, Louisiana, of course, has gone on to become one of the leading jockeys on the
Southern California circuit.
JOCKEY VALET RICHARD GUIDRY RECOVERING
Richard Guidry, a longtime fixture in the Fair Grounds jockeys’ room, is currently recovering well from open heart surgery performed Monday at
“I spoke to him this morning,” said Equibase’s
Steve Terpevich, his
longtime golfing partner, on Wednesday. “He was doing fine, ate some
breakfast this morning and was sitting up when I talked to him.”