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Talamo Determined to Take Lead at Del Mar

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Joe Talamo, runner-up in the Del Mar rider standings the last two years, came up one win short of Rafael Bejarano and Edwin Maldonado for the meet championship when Betfair Hollywood Park ended Sunday.

Monday morning, only about 12 hours after the final race at Hollywood Park, the  23-year-old native of Louisiana and his agent Scott McClellan could be found making the rounds of the Del Mar backstretch,  securing mounts for the meeting which starts Wednesday.

“It’s part of the game,” Talamo said of the title share that eluded him in Inglewood. “You just go back to work and try to win the next one (riding title). This would be the place to do it."

Talamo’s 42 wins at the 2011 Del Mar meeting was seven short of Joel Rosario and  last year it was Bejarano prevailing 52-43.  Talamo tied the existing Del Mar record for stakes victories a year ago with 12, only to be one-upped by Bejarano.

The tie by Bejarano and Maldonado  _  51 wins apiece - atop the standings was the first at a Hollywood Park spring/summer  season in 67 years and only the third in the history of the track. Ralph Neves and Jack Westrope both won 56 races in 1946 while John Adams and Silvio Coucci each won 46 times during the inaugural meet in 1938.

Talamo, who began the final week of the 49-day meet with a four-win lead over Bejarano and a seven-victory cushion over Maldonado, had  a meet-high 10 stakes successes.

Neither Bejarano nor Maldonado  were  displeased with the outcome at Hollywood Park.“

“A tie is OK for me, I’m happy,‘’ said Bejarano. “I wish in the (meet’s next to last race ) ,  Talamo  would have won so we could have had a three-way tie for the first time. If I couldn’t win it all, I wish we could have all finished together.’’

“I’m super happy right now,’’ Maldonado said. “I was pushing for Talamo in the tenth because I would have loved to see a three-way tie. I’ll settle for a tie since I was seven behind going into the last week, so it’s just as good.’’

Bejarano, Talamo, Garrett Gomez – recently returned from a sabbatical from riding – and Maldonado, the top four in the 2012 Del Mar standings, are all back. The winning jockeys of the three Triple Crown races this year – Joel Rosario and Hall  of Famers,  Gary Stevens and Mike Smith – will be on site until Rosario heads east for the opening of Saratoga on Friday.



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