It would be an understatement to say that jockey Jamie Theriot has found his groove in the past three weeks at Churchill Downs.
As of May 23 after the first 20 days of racing at the 52-day Spring Meet, Theriot had ridden only eight winners from 86 mounts. He nearly surpassed that mark in one day on Wednesday when he rode six winners from seven mounts.
Coming on the heels of a four-win day on Sunday, June 15, Theriot is hitting at 28 percent clip (30 for 107) over the past 18 racing days. His 38 victories for the meet rank fourth behind Robby Albarado (50), Miguel Mena (45) and Julien Leparoux (40). Wednesday marked the first day of the meet that no member of the top trio recorded a victory.
Hall of Famer Pat Day holds the Churchill Downs single-day record of seven victories, which he achieved on June 20, 1984. Day also had four six-win days. Theriot became the seventh rider to take home a six pack on a single day.
“Coming into the meet, I had days carried over from Keeneland and I think that hurt us the first three weeks to a month,” Theriot said. “With me being out for three days, it just took some time to get the momentum back going again, but once we got it back going again, we have had three really, really good weeks.
“We are getting our horses back. I had lost some stock here and there from being off.”
The 29-year-old native of Arnaudville, La., never had had a six-win day before Wednesday. Previously he had enjoyed five-win days at Evangeline Downs, Lone Star Park, Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park.
The 10 wins in two racing days threaten to top Theriot’s best run.
“The last year I rode at Lone Star (in 2006), I rode 14 winners one week, which was a record and then a few weeks later I broke that with 16,” Theriot said. “I was winning three and four races a night.”
Theriot is named on six mounts Thursday.
CALHOUN HITTING AT 45 PERCENT WIN CLIP – Of trainers who have saddled 20 horses or more this spring at Churchill Downs, no one has posted a better winning percentage than Bret Calhoun.
Two victories on Wednesday’s card gave Calhoun nine winners for the meet from only 20 starters for a 45 percent strike rate.
“We shipped in a few horses in years past, but last spring was the first time I kept a stable here with 10-12 horses,” said Calhoun, a 44-year-old native of Grand Prairie, Texas. “This year we have 17 now, but with claims we have had up to 20.”
Calhoun has more than 60 horses stabled at Lone Star as well as another 16 at Louisiana Downs and he hopes to build on his Kentucky base.
“I plan to be here almost year-round,” Calhoun said. “I am going to stay here this summer and ship to Ellis Park and Arlington and then go to Keeneland and be here in the fall before going to the Fair Grounds for the winter. I plan to gradually upgrade my stock to compete on this circuit and get the opportunity to train better horses.”
One of the better horses currently in Calhoun’s care is Mr. Nightlinger, who gave the trainer his second victory on Wednesday and the sixth of the afternoon for Jamie Theriot.
It was the third straight turf sprint victory for Mr. Nightlinger, who had earlier taken Churchill Downs’ Aegon Turf Sprint (Grade III) and the Shakertown (GIII) at Keeneland.
“I’m looking at a $50,000 prep at Arlington (the Taylor’s Special at five furlongs on July 26) and then a $200,000 race (the Arlington Sprint at 5 ½ furlongs on Aug. 23),” Calhoun said of plans for Mr. Nightlinger, who is owned by Carl Moore Management and the Martin Racing Stable. “The ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (at Santa Anita on Oct. 25)."
THERIOT, MCKEE TO BE FEATURED DURING 'JOCKEY TALK;' THERIOT ON 'CHURCHILL DOWNS IN SEASON' ON WAVE-3 TV – Jockeys Jamie Theriot and John McKee will be the featured guests during this Saturday’s “Jockey Talk” – a new program at Churchill Downs that allows horse racing fans to mingle with their favorite race riders.
Each Saturday throughout the remainder of the Spring Meet fans will get a chance to meet, visit, receive autographs and take pictures with select Churchill Downs jockeys from 11:30 a.m. to noon (all times Eastern) in the paddock area.
McKee, 26, entered Thursday’s card with 10 victories for the meet, good for a tie for 10th place in the rider standings. A native of Cincinnati, McKee was the leading rider at the 2004 Fall Meet.
Earlier on Saturday the sizzling Theriot is also scheduled to appear on “Churchill Downs In Season,” a 30-minute program that will be telecast live from the Churchill Downs’ paddock on Louisville’s WAVE3-TV at 9:30 a.m.
Theriot will discuss his surging career and successful Spring Meet with Churchill Downs’ John Asher, the host of the show that airs on most Saturdays during the track’s spring and fall racing meets. The appearance by Theriot is scheduled to lead off Saturday’s edition of “In Season.”
The final “In Season” program of the Spring Meet is scheduled for June 28.
BARN TALK – Best wishes for a happy 42nd birthday today to trainer Eddie Kenneally. Lally Stable’s Call Her the Cat, who runs in the ninth race, is the only Kenneally-trained horse schedule to run on Thursday’s card. …Trainer Jim Baker said that Tom Walters’ Elite Squadron, winner of the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap, is scheduled to ship to Hollywood Park on June 30 for the July 5 Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (GI). “He’ll work here the next two weekends before shipping,” Baker said. … Saturday, June 21 is the deadline for nominations for the final three stakes of the 52-day Spring Meet: The Firecracker (GII), the Bashford Manor (GIII) and the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII). Information is available by calling Churchill Downs Racing at (502) 636-4470 or nominations may be made via fax at (502) 636-4479.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Richard, Elaine and Bertram Klein’s Change Up, winner of the 2006 Pocahontas (GIII), had the fastest five-furlong work of Thursday morning, a :59 move over a “fast” track for trainer Steve Margolis. There were 23 works at the distance. … (TURF: Firm, dogs up) – G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s stakes-winning Katerbug worked a half-mile on “firm” turf in :51.80 for trainer Rusty Arnold. … Phoenix Stakes (GIII) winner Off Duty worked five furlongs on the turf in 1:01.60 for trainer Lynn Whiting.
Through Wednesday, June 18
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 194 50-25-26
Miguel Mena 252 45-33-34
Julien Leparoux 241 40-45-43
Jamie Theriot 193 38-31-20
Calvin Borel 225 34-33-34
Shaun Bridgmohan 165 33-30-22
Jesus Castanon 196 22-19-22
Corey Lanerie 157 12-21-18
Brian Hernandez Jr. 141 12-20-15
Elvis Trujillo 76 10-10-18
Tom Amoss 60 26-9-10
Ken McPeek 62 24-11-5
Steve Asmussen 91 19-15-13
Dale Romans 104 11-23-18
Mike Maker 42 11-9-4
Ian Wilkes 38 11-8-5
Eddie Kenneally 49 9-9-8
Bret Calhoun 20 9-1-3
Cody Autrey 46 8-9-9
Nick Zito 20 8-5-1
Greg Foley 54 7-9-8
Steve Margolis 37 7-6-8
Paul McGee 36 7-6-2
Wesley Ward 28 7-5-5
Robert O’Connor II 18 7-2-4
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 45 12-7-8
Maggi Moss 23 12-4-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 41 7-8-9
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 31 6-7-4
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 14 5-1-0
Heflin & Driver Racing 22 4-5-4
Padua Stables 7 4-1-0
Eliah and Lisa Kahn 4 4-0-0