Taking a racing day off is a rare thing for Joe Talamo. Then again, it’s not every day a man gets married.
So Talamo’s name will not be found on the programs for the card at Del Mar. It will, instead, be prominent on the programs passed out late this Friday afternoon at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in the Little Italy community of San Diego where Talamo will wed Elizabeth Ellis.
Talamo, 25, and Ellis, eldest daughter of trainer Ron Ellis and his wife Amy, have known each other for eight years. They met in the spring of 2007, soon after Talamo, a 17-year-old apprentice, moved to the Southern California circuit fresh from being the first “bug boy” to win the riding title at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds, recording 119 victories.
“I asked her out right after I met her but her dad said ‘No’”, Talamo recalls.
In time, Ron Ellis relented and racing fans got to watch the relationship grow through two seasons of the Animal Planet reality series “Jockeys” in 2009.
“It helps that she grew up around the racetrack and the racing business,” Talamo said. “She knows how the (working) hours can be crazy and the weekends are like week days for most people.”
Talamo won the Eclipse Award as the top apprentice jockey of 2007 and has ranked among the top 15 in North America in earnings for each of the last four years. In an eventful 2009 season he endured the heartbreak of having the Kentucky Derby favorite he was about to ride, I Want Revenge, scratched on the morning of the race but notched his only Breeders’ Cup win that fall on California Flag in the Turf Sprint.
Equibase figures through Thursday show Talamo ranked No. 26 in North America for 2015 with 96 wins from 760 mounts and an additional 188 in-the-money finishes for purse earnings of more than $6 million.