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There is a reason why they call it the Great Race Place, but to figure that out you just need to take a little road trip to Arcadia, California and spend a day at Santa Anita Park.

It was a Cajun week for racing fans but it was double Cajun for this writer, handicapper and bettor. I not only got to see Kent Desormeaux ride Exaggerator to a stunning win in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby but the horse was also trained by his brother Keith. Kent and his brother are from the small Louisiana town of Maurice.

Now for double Cajun, thanks to jockey agent Scott McClellan I was able to have a real nice talk with Joe Talamo, who I believe will also be a Hall of Fame jockey like fellow Cajun rider Desormeaux.

Talamo is just 26 years old but far wiser than his young age would suggest. He and agent McClellan get along like brothers. They both share a great respect for each other.

Joe is just one of the nicest guys you could be around, so down to earth and one of those very happy persons who is thankful for everything he has, including his family and friends. He hails from Marrero, Louisiana, which is right across the river from New Orleans and was just married to Elizabeth Ellis the daughter of trainer Ron Ellis. Joe and Elizabeth are expecting a new young jock in the family very soon.

Talamo is a perennial top ten jock in Southern California, which has some of the top riders in the nation. It is a very tough racing colony but Joe is always in the top ten. He loves being in California and said he knew the first week here he would stay. At 26, Talamo is not only a great rider but a credit to the sport.

One of his biggest wins this year came in the Big Cap aboard Melatonin, who he will be riding this Saturday at Oaklawn Park in the Oaklawn Handicap. We here at GamingToday will be wishing him well.

These past few years I have been fortunate to interview Rosie Napravnik, a great rider who gave it up to raise a family, and last year we spent time with Tom Amoss and his wife. Now another Cajun, Joe Talamo, and all I can say is there must be something to that food they eat in Louisiana. These are the most friendly, courteous people this humble writer has ever met.

Talamo is one of those special people who you just want to be around and would be successful no matter what he did. After watching him ride Tough It Out in the mud this past Saturday all we can say is you can depend on Joe to give his best whenever on a horse, or anything he does in life.

Quigley’s corner

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of doing Tom Quiqley’s handicapping show from Santa Anita and just want to thank him for all his help while we were down at the Great Race Place. Also, we would like to thank our Cajun connection Mr. Syl Friedman for all his help with the rooms. As usual he did a great job and it was great that he flew in from New Orleans, even without his main man Shag, to be with us for the big Santa Anita Derby.

Quigley, who does a great job at Santa Anita hosting his live show from the paddock area, will be at Golden Gate for three weeks promoting their Turf Racing Festival, while the Southern California meet moves to Los Alamitos for three weeks. This bettor has been to Golden Gate and it is a fun spot. If you have a chance take a little trip to San Francisco, take in Little Italy and visit Tom at the track.

Derby preps

There were some big Kentucky Derby 100 pointers this past weekend with the Blue Grass at Keeneland won by Brody’s Cause in his second start of the season after not running a step in the Tampa Bay Derby when crushed by Destin. These two will meet up again in the Kentucky Derby.

In the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct the winner was Outwork, who finished second behind Destin in that same Tampa Bay Derby race. Outwork just got the bob over the Santa Anita shipper and recent maiden winner Trojan Nation who ran a huge race.

The most impressive effort of the preps came from Exaggerator on a track listed as sloppy. He unleashed a three wide move that was eye catching and flew by the others to win going away while under a long Kent Desormeaux hold.

All we can say is look out Kentucky, he proved that an off track will be welcome. If you go back and watch Exaggerator’s race in the San Felipe, he tried to make the same move up the rail and did it except he did not follow through with his run.

He put it all together with this effort and now will be on to Kentucky and a rematch with Nyquist who has beaten him the three times they have met.

Next Saturday it’s the Arkansas Derby and then on to Kentucky. Don’t forget about betting those round robins. You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet. Email: [email protected].

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