Maryland Jockey Club valet James “Bobo” Brigmon won’t be at work this week. Brigmon, also a regular exercise rider for Hamilton Smith, accompanied Done Talking to Louisville early Sunday morning.
“Bobo started out down there in Elloree,” said Smith. “He was really a help to my brother. He’d stay all day and work with him. Anything that had to be done, he’d do. He started out grooming horses and stuff down there, and he saw the exercise riders and thought that was cool, and he said he wanted to learn how to do that. All you gotta do is say to my brother that you wanna learn how to gallop a horse, and he’ll put you up on one. So Bobo wants to go down to Kentucky and gallop this horse. They’ll probably have him on TV galloping, and that’s what he’s looking forward to. His kids can have something to look at and look up to him for. It means a lot to him, really.”
Brigmon picked up the narrative. “I’m from Elloree; from right around the corner from the track. My school bus used to go by the training center, and I’d see the horses going around the there in the mornings. One day I just thought I was gonna go on out there and ask for a job. I went, and Goree said ‘Yeah, come on out.’ I was 14 or 15. First of all I started doing feed tubs and water buckets and then Goree had me leading horses in and out of the paddock.”
Brigmon progressed naturally from stable hand to groom to exercise rider and eventually moved up to Maryland to work for Ham Smith at Laurel. He’s been working as a valet for the past four years. He’s been with Done Talking since day one.
“I’ve been on him the whole time. I always thought he was one of the classiest horses I ever got on. I always told Hammy ‘I love him, I love him, I love him…..’ I picked him as my big horse. If somebody else was getting on him, he could see the look on my face. Hammy was like ‘I don’t wanna let that boy get to lovin’ one, cause then he’ll treat him like a baby.’” You know how Hammy is. But I love that horse. Ever since I first got on him, he ain’t got nothin’ but class. He goes out there and does it all himself, changes leads and everything. Just natural class. Saturday’s work was perfect, just what Hammy wanted. Sheldon was happy too. I was happy looking at him going around there.”
Brigmon’s pals in the jocks’room are thrilled for him. “Everyone in the jocks’ room is going crazy. They’re still talking about when he won the Illinois Derby. They were getting on me about the way I was jumping around and the way I was screaming. Every time they pass me on the track they’re saying ‘Hey, exercise rider of the year!’ They’ve always got something to say to me.’
“You know, I’d always aggravate Hammy; I’d be telling him all the time, ‘We need a big horse.’ And I’ve been saying that since way before the Illinois Derby. Then one day I said it and Hammy pointed at Done Talking and said ‘We got one right there Bobo – we got one right there.’”