Born: May 17, 1979 in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland
Record at Keeneland
Total Wins: 177
Stakes Wins: 9
First Grade 1 Win: 2009 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Hot Cha Cha
First Stakes Win: 2004 Canterbury Park Lassie on Berbatim
First Graded Stakes Win: 2004 Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks (G3) at Arlington Park on Lovely Afternoon
First Career Win: July 1, 2003, at River Downs on B.J. Star
Starters in the Toyota Blue Grass
|2017||It's Your Nickel||6th|
Won three races on Oct. 8, 2014, during the Fall Meet.
Won five stakes in 2012: Jenny Wiley (G1) on Daisy Devine, Central Bank Ashland (G1) on Karlovy Vary, Grey Goose Bewitch (G3) and Rood & Riddle Dowager on Upperline, and Pin Oak Valley View (G3) (first division) on Angel Terrace.
Second in Keeneland’s jockey standings at the 2012 Spring Meet and tied for third at that year’s Fall Meet.
Won three races at Keeneland on Oct. 22, 2011, for three trainers. Finished second in the Fall Meet standings.
Won 1,000th race of his career on April 14, 2010, when he rode Mint Chip to win the seventh race.
Scored the first Grade 1 victory of his career in 2009 at Keeneland when he rode Hot Cha Cha to win the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.
First Keeneland win came during the 2003 Fall Meet.
First Keeneland stakes win was the 2007 Sycamore (G3) on Transduction Gold.
North American career earnings exceed $78 million with 2,379 wins through Dec. 4, 2018.
2017 earnings were $5,019,866 with 116 wins, including the Wise Dan (G2) aboard Kasaqui (ARG), Falls City (G2) with Blue Prize (ARG) and New Orleans (G2) with Honorable Duty.
2016 earnings were $4,005,738 with 109 wins, including the Arlington Classic (G3) on Surgical Strike.
2015 earnings were $5,693,324 with 125 wins, including the Del Mar Oaks (G1) with Sharla Rae.
Scored career win No. 2,000 when he rode Call Me George to win the March 28, 2015, New Orleans Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Won two stakes on a single day twice at Fair Grounds in 2015: Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap (G3) and Marie G. Krantz Memorial on January 17 and the New Orleans Handicap (G2) and Costa Rising Stakes on March 28. He also two stakes at Delta Downs on Feb. 7: Louisiana Bred Premier Night Prince and Starlet.
2014 earnings were $6,885,072 when he won 238 races (ninth-best in North America), including the Arlington Classic (G3) on Istanford.
Has been a leading rider at Arlington Park and Fair Grounds.
While James was in high school in Ireland, a guidance counselor asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said he wanted to become a jockey. He left home at 15 and entered Ireland’s jockey school. He said there are two, two-week introductory sessions, the purpose of which in part is to try to determine if a person is actually jockey material, before beginning the 10-month course. During the course, students learn horsemanship, from cleaning stalls to grooming and tacking up the horses. “They teach you the basics, but then it’s up to you to improve,” he explained.
After he completed the course, he went to work for trainer John Oxx for about a year and a half, during which time he groomed horses, mucked stalls and exercised horses. But since riding opportunities were relatively scarce, he came to the U.S. shortly before the 2002 Breeders’ Cup. He exercised horses for trainer Jeff Thornbury at Keeneland and then took out his jockey’s license.