(James Graham takes the Ellis Park riding title / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
James Graham is one of the most likable people you will ever meet in your life.
Quick with a smile, and warm with a handshake, he meets people with the same gracious and kind ability that he shows nearly every time he throws a leg over a Thoroughbred. He can shine both on and off a horse’s back. He can win in either a race to the wire, or a chance to win your friendship.
In simple terms, which is the way James Graham tackles his profession and his life, the man is a good guy.
And, some times, good people do finish first.
This is the case this week when rider and jockey James Graham won just enough races to capture his first ever riding title in Kentucky, capturing the Jockey’s Title at Ellis Park. After the races and the counting was all done, Graham had a total of 26 wins to inch past both Tyler Baze and Corey Lanerie — who hit the finish line in a dead heat for second with 25 wins.
In 157 mounts this meet at Ellis Park, Graham had a record of 26-26-21 and his horses earned over $819,000 in purses.
Baze, who rode first saddle for trainer Steve Asmussen much of the Ellis Park meet, finished with a mark of 25-24-21 in 167 rides. His horses had a meet-leading total of $885,813 in purses.
Lanerie, who missed the meet’s closing day card to ride Gray Magician to a second place finish in the G3 Smarty Jones Stakes on Monday, had a 25-23-13 record in just 115 rides.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 riders this meet:
|3||Corey J. Lanerie||115||25||23||13||$766,998||22%||61||53%|
|4||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.||129||15||14||21||$725,421||12%||50||39%|
|13||Calvin H. Borel||69||8||12||10||$303,637||12%||30||43%|
|18||Joseph Rocco, Jr.||56||8||3||10||$170,359||14%||21||38%|
|20||Jon Kenton Court||75||4||4||6||$143,493||5%||14||19%|
|22||Jesus Lopez Castanon||17||3||2||3||$113,303||18%||8||47%|
|25||Julien R. Leparoux||4||1||0||1||$40,150||25%||2||50%|
(Stats courtesy of Equibase)