After a four-year absence from racing, jockey Jamie Theriot, 43, has returned to the saddle at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. On Sunday Nov 27, Theriot returned to the winner’s circle after giving Imindycatbirdseat a perfect ground-saving trip before tipping out and charging home to score in the day’s finale.
“It's a great feeling that's indescribable,” Theriot said walking back from the winner’s circle. “(Imindycatbirdseat) looked live on paper. I drew the one hole so I was like you know what, I’m going to give him the shortest trip, and if I have horse at the quarter pole, he’ll be the best today. And he was.”
Theriot now has 615 career wins at Fair Grounds, the fourth most of all active jockeys in the colony behind James Graham, Corey Lanerie, and Brian Hernandez, Jr. One of many brilliant riders from the Lafayette area, he rode his first race at the original Evangeline Downs, also known as the cradle of jockeys.
Taller than most riders, gaining the necessary fitness while maintaining weight off an extended time away was a challenge.
“Of course the last two pounds were the hardest thing,” Theriot said. “It was a very tall mountain to climb, but when I got to a certain weight, at a point in time you’ve got to finish the dance. It was a grind and is still a grind day-in and day-out.”
From riding six winners on June 8, 2008 at Churchill Downs to winning two Breeders’ Cup races in 2010 with Chamberlain Bridge in the Turf Sprint and Dubai Majesty in the Filly and Mare Sprint (both saddled by Bret Calhoun), Theriot has proven his talent on our sport’s biggest stages time and again. He’s also won leading rider titles at Evangeline Downs (2001), Oaklawn Park (2003), and Fair Grounds (2008).
“My first day back in the saddle breezing in the morning it was like I had stopped just yesterday,” Theriot said. “Don't get me wrong there were little thingsI had to adjust but my timing was there. I knew I’d be a little rusty, the cobwebs would be there, but for the most part I was ready.”
In 2018, Theriot served a short stint riding for Ramapatee Gujadhur at Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis, Mauritius. He rode the rest of 2018 based in Lone Star Park and Remington Park where he last rode Dec 5, 2018 before hanging it up to pursue other career opportunities.
“His attitude, his enthusiasm to come back and ride again is through the roof,” said Theriot’s agent David Heitzmann. “We’re working for a variety of trainers. A lot of Kentucky guys are still coming down and we expect to ride for some of those. The feedback has been really really good. We’re going to do our best to start off fast. And if he can ride the card, he’ll ride the card.”
Through Sunday Dec 4, Theriot’s record is 18-1-3-4. His win came riding for trainer Tanner Tracy. Through his prime when based at Fair Grounds, Theriot took a lot of mounts for trainers Bret Calhoun, Al Stall, Tom Amoss, Mike Stidham, and Joe Duhon.
“I’m thankful for the trainers who are giving me the opportunity and who believe in me.” Theriot said. “This is another step to show them I can still do this.”
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 151st Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 110th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from Nov 18, 2022 through March 26, 2023. More information is available online at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.