Talarico in the driver’s seat

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Dr. Louis Talarico can’t help but bring his work home with him.

After a long day, the Lewiston native feels a need to keep in contact with his co-workers.

So he willingly loads them up and transports them up the road to his home in Florida. To Talarico, it makes a lot of horse sense.

As a harness racing driver, Talarico admits he becomes attached to the horses he works with. He looks them in the eye can see they don’t want to be left behind. So he’ll cart them from the track to his stables at home, just a mile or so up the road.

“We can have a connection with them that far outweigh anything you can do as a trainer,” said Talarico. “The four that I’m working with now, I don’t even leave them at the track anymore.”

Talarico never really imaged he’d become this attached to horses. The summer resident of New Gloucester has a lengthy resume that includes being a foot-and-ankle surgeon, a teacher at the USC Medical Center, a real estate agent, a flight attendant, the founder of a youth football league, inventor of soles for athletic shoes, a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Registered Professional Counselor, a stock broker and a member of the Lewiston school board.

He’s currently being put through the paces working with horses in Florida. He’ll be soon returning to Maine with four promising horses that he hopes to compete with on the harness racing circuit this summer. One of them, Jacob’s Winner, has him truly excited.

“He looks very promising,” said Talarico. “I didn’t think I’d get out of here with him because I had two trainers working him out that were interested in him.

“I will bring him to Maine with two other two year olds, and I’ll probably train them and get them ready for the learn-and-earn races and get them ready for the stakes races in July.”

Talarico was drawn to the horse racing business through his wife, Louise. She is a dressage instructor trainer. Talarico had gotten involved with horses through playing polo in 1991.

“When I met up with her, I was kind of getting out of polo,” he said. “So I was thinking that she was always going to be around horses. So, maybe, I should find something else.”

He’s been going to Florida each winter since 1999. He got into owning horses but couldn’t curb the temptation to get behind the wheel, so to speak. At 190 pounds, he knew he wasn’t going to be riding the horses. So he opted for the next best thing.

“I was an owner primarily but a pretty hands on owner,” said Talarico, who went to college and medical school in Cleveland at Western Reserve University, which merged with Case Institute of Technology to form Case Western Reserve. “I just wanted to be able to sit behind them and do more. Everybody thinks they know more than the next guy. I was at a point where I wanted to institute my own thinking.”

With his own medical background and experience in athletics, he had an interest in apply that knowledge to working with horses. So he went through the lengthy process of obtaining a license as a driver and trainer and began racing last year.

“I was just wanted to see if I could modernize the sport and its practices,” said Talarico, who practiced Podiatric Medicine in Lewiston and Farmington for over 35 years. “I just felt that I’d like to try different things and use what we’ve learned. Just bring into the sport things that I picked up on as far as exercise physiology.”

It didn’t take long for Talarico to have success. He won in just his second race last September, riding RS Banker to victory at the Oxford County Fair.

“That was pretty exciting,” he said. “I sat there most of the race until the third-quarter pole. I knew I had a lot of horse. So I came out of the back stretch. The announcer was giving the lineup. He said Keep your eye out on the 6-to-1 long shot.’ Then we came from behind. He said I told you so.’ We marched off to a seven-and-a-half length victory.”

He was in the money in other races last year but didn’t get another win. He’s optimistic about his chances with Jacob’s Winner as well as Black Chip Winner.

“It’s kind of scary to have a fabulous horse like that,” he said of Jacob’s Winner. “I’m not sure I know enough.”

What he has learned as a driver last year is that racing can be a hectic and dangerous endeavor. The younger drivers and their quicker instincts and reactions might gave them an advantage.

“So you just have to drive not only defensively but also cautiously,” he said. “You can’t be reckless.”

He doesn’t know how long he’ll continue on this career path. At age 62, he doesn’t expect to be racing when he reaches his 70’s. He admits training and driving horses can be a lot of work. He often jokes with his wife that life in a condo at the beach would be much simpler.

Still, he just can’t leave those horses behind.

“I’m just trying to stay out of trouble,” he said. “You just show up and do your thing and hope the horse can do its thing.”

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