Born: May 17, 1979 in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland
Record at Keeneland
Total Wins: 213
Stakes Wins: 10
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|
First Keeneland win came during the 2003 Fall Meet.
First Keeneland stakes win was the 2007 Sycamore (G3) on Transduction Gold.
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.
Won 1,000th race of his career on April 14, 2010, when he rode Mint Chip to win Keeneland's seventh race.
10 Keeneland stakes wins include 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. Latest was the 2020 Sycamore (G3) on Red Knight.
North American career earnings exceed $102 million with 2,887 wins through May 30, 2022.
Click here for his Equibase career record.
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 World Championships. He exercised horses for trainer Jeff Thornbury at Keeneland and then took out his jockey’s license.