This is an exclsive interview of the young world-famous jockey Joe Talamo!
Could you introduce yourself, describe us your way to become jockey for people who don’t know you yet?
« My name is Joe Talamo and I’m a professional jockey in Southern California. My dad was an assistant trainer so I was around horses at an early age. I began galloping horses and working with them then. At age sixteen, I raced at Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds, then moved to California where I am now. »
You’re known to have been involved in « Jockeys ». What did it bring to you?
« We filmed two seasons of « Jockeys » for Animal Planet. It was good exposure for us, and our sport. I think it gave people a new insight into what we do as jockeys: the lifestyle, the hardships, and the danger. Looking back, I’m happy to have the two seasons as they documented my first Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby experience. Before the second season aired, I was asked to be a guest on Conan O’Brien. That has to be one of my favorite things the show brought to me. «
We can see how a jockey’s life is difficult. Have you ever thought to stop it and do another job?
« In fifth grade, the teacher asked us to write three things we wanted to do when we were older. For example: teacher, doctor, or lawyer. I wrote jockey three times. I can’t remember a time when I wanted to do anything else. I consider myself extremely lucky to do what I love everyday. Although it is difficult at times, quitting or changing career paths has never crossed my mind. «
You seem to be close to your fans, what do they symbolize to you?
« Horse racing needs more fans, so I am willing to help the sport in anyway. Facebook and Twitter have allowed me create a relationship with these fans. I am able to update them on my career, answer their questions, and respond to any comment. I’m lucky to have the most supportive fans. If I have a bad day, or week, they are still there offering positive comments or motivational quotes. Every fan is important to me but the young fans really symbolize hope for the sport. »
Who helped you to become the world-famous jockey you’re today?
« I owe a lot of my success to my parents and all those who helped me early on in Louisiana. I have been fortunate to work in very competitive jockey colonies, and have learned and continue to learn from some of the world’s best jockeys like Mike Smith, Garrett Gomez, and David Flores. «
Who are your models? Why?
« I respect and admire anyone who works hard and succeeds in their chosen career. I look up to many professionals, athletes, and even celebrities. «
Are there horses that you will never forget (that you have ridden or not)?
« Yes! Nashoba’s Key was my first Grade I victory and Breeders’ Cup mount. I Want Revenge was my first Kentucky Derby horse, his prep races and Kentucky Derby morning scratch make him one of the most unforgettable horses. Of course, California Flag will always be one of my favorites. I won my first Breeders’ Cup race and was able to travel to Dubai and Hong Kong with him. Even though I did not ride Zenyatta, I will never forget her. She was a very special animal, and I feel lucky to have seen her race. «
Will we have the luck to see you ride in France?
« I hope so! It is every jockey’s dream to travel the world with a top horse. I have been to Japan, Hong Kong, and Dubai. I would love to race in France and Australia in the near future. «
What’s your aim for 2012?
« I wake up every morning with the hope of becoming the best. My goal for 2012 is the same as last year’s and the same as next year’s. I want to win a jockey title and compete in the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup. «
Do you have another passion or hobby than races?
« I enjoy playing golf and investing money in real estate, but my passion will always be horses. I donate to retired thoroughbred charities, and hope to create my own after I retire. «
A last note for people who will read you?
« »Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. » -Conan O’Brien »
Thanks a lot to Joe Talamo and to his manager, Scotty McClellan!