Tag Archives: Animal Planet

Catching UP with The Infield

MO TERMS broke his maiden on Feb. 25 at Turfway Park!  Wahoo!  Go Mo & Trainer Mary McKinley!  The dark bay colt won a $7500 Maiden Claiming event at a mile under jockey E. Wilkinson.  His victory comes after months of close calls, most recently a 4th on Feb 2.  

I caught up on the last couple episodes of JOCKEYS during my hiatus.   Chantal and Mike are very competitive with each other…Joe Talamo probably should have gotten some kind of suspension after three incidents of swaggin’ in one day.  The look inside the stewards’ office was pretty neat, something I have never seen before…the tall jockey, whose name I cannot ever remember but he was in from Arlington Park, struggled to find mounts and eventually decided to move his saddle to Kentucky…Aaron Gryder lost the mount on the filly named after his daughter, Grace Gryder, to Talamo…Talamo won the race and left an “autographed” winners’ circle shot on Gryder’s locker…it was pretty cool seeing all of the champion jockeys get together at the local to chat and give Joe a hard time…I want a copy of Mike’s Holy Bull DVD! 

The penultimate episode airs on Friday, and I hope it gets more into the Breeders’ Cup preparations.  Also, Orthodox, the horse Jon Court rode to victory in the 2nd episode, won an allowance race last week.  Speaking of Jon, he is riding at Oaklawn this season and has won 12 races in 106 starts, the 6th leading rider in Hot Springs.  Chantal Sutherland recently rode Infield favorite Lickety Lemon to a 5th place finish in the La Zanzara H. at Santa Anita.  Kayla Stra was 2nd in the third race yesterday at Santa Anita, on Lethal Dose.

Later this month, I am taking a trip to Tucson, AZ, to check out the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program.  I will have a full account of the experience as live as I can get it, so stay tuned!

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Filed under Animal Planet, Jockeys, promoting racing, Santa Anita


Joe Talamo(left) poses with Michael Baze at Del Mar, before reality show stardom.

Joe Talamo(left) poses with Michael Baze at Del Mar, before reality show stardom.

I tell you, it’s like they read my mind.  From the opening theme to the cliffhangers between the commercials, Animal Planet totally nailed the modern docu-drama asthetic with Jockeys.  The soundtrack is hip, the visuals are colorful and capture the activity on the track.  The frenetic, MTV editing keeps viewers glued to the action and the individual jockeys’ storylines. 

They’ve got all of the character archtypes:  arrogant youngster in Joe Talamo, the aging Hall of Famer in Mike Smith and the struggling newcomer in Kayla Stra, plus the supportive yet competitive love interest in Chantal Sutherland.  Aaron Gryder plays the Family Man.  Supporting characters in the first 2 eps included Jon Court in the “best Friend” role and Cory Nakatani as the “wounded warrior”.  Garret Gomez made a cameo as well, as the hot shot top winning jock everybody is chasing.

Unlike other reality show subjects, the jockeys face death daily:  in the opening credits alone, there are at least 2 spills.  In the first ep, Cory Nakatani goes down in a turf stake and is out for the meet (the horse was fine).  In a touching scene early on, the jocks share a prayer with the race track chaplain before heading out to the track.  Underscoring the danger is the thrill of victory, as when Talamo pulls off an upset with a horse named Booyah, or when Smith shows off on the champion mare Zenyatta.

Of course, no reality program is complete without relationship drama.  Unfortunately, this is so far the weakest part of the show.  Mike Smith is dating Chantal Sutherland, don’t you know?  But she lives and rides in Canada, and must make the difficult choice between her career and her love life.  Santa Anita is a much tougher circuit than Woodbine.  She, of course, moves in with Mike & rearranges his closet.  Maybe I’m just too cynical, but that part seemed so forced.  I *did* like when they showed her rooting for Mike on Zenyatta during the second half of the show.  The lovebirds could grow on me, though.  It’s early yet.

Kayla Stra broke my heart in this episode, going barn door to door, begging for mounts in the wee hours of the morning.  Breaking into the biz is a bitch.  When she finally gets a horse to ride, the cantankerous critter nearly flips in the gate and sends Stra bailing out the back.  Back in the saddle after a reset, she rides up the track, earning only her $75 mount fee.  To add injury to insult, her foot is bruised in the starting gate action and so she has to sit and soak it after the losing ride. 

In all, Jockeys has a lot going for it and I look forward to next week’s installment.  From the promos, the show is going to look into flipping and other tortures jockeys put themselves through to make weight.  I’ve already got it Tivo’d.


Filed under Animal Planet, Jockeys, promoting racing, zenyatta

JOCKEYS Premieres in 3 Days!!

I like this promo for the show.  It captures the bad-ass side of racing pretty well, and features Kanye on the soundtrack.   If the show is as awesome as the ads, it’s gonna rock.

I just checked the Animal Planet site, and it’s all Jockeys

Mike SMith is one of seven featured riders, and in all of the photos, he is in the teal and pink silks of Jerry Moss.  Zenyatta makes a cameo in the above trailer, too. 

Who wants to bet that Joe Talamo and Kayla Stra become the next Heidi and Spencer? 

Jon Court has been at Oaklawn – I’ll have to get his autograph next time I go to Hot Springs.

One thing I know for sure is that there won’t be any stupid CSI-esque, brain-cell-killing cliches on this show. 


Filed under Animal Planet, Jockeys, promoting racing, zenyatta

I may have to start watching Animal Planet again

The Jockeys are coming to Animal Planet Feb. 6! 

The last time AP had a good horse show was the Thoroughbred series, which followed the daily life of Bonita Farm in Maryland.  That was nearly 10 years ago, when I was but a teenage horse geek and minor degenerate.  That show opened my eyes to the difficulties involved with breeding horses – up till then my idea of a thoroughbred nursery was the stuff in the Black Stallion series and the glamourous stallion barns in Kentucky.

This new show should be compelling, too.  The Seabiscuit movie introduced audiences to the hard lives of jockeys in the ’30s, but though technology and safety rules have changed, the jocks still face dangers both on and off the track.  Just this year, an exercise rider was fatally injured working a horse, and that was just in the morning!  The jockeys also have the pressure to win coming from the trainer and the owners, either of whom can make the decision to bench a jock if he doesn’t win on a particular horse.    Jocks at the top level catch heat from the press — see the firing squad Kent Desormeaux faced after the Belmont this year. 

Perhaps this show will garner the jockeys some much-needed sports cred.  My co-workers and friends roll their eyes when I talk about the athleticism required to ride Thoroughbreds.  They insist that “the horse is doing all the work!”  While the horse is the runner, the jockey is the pilot.  The split-second decision he or she makes at the break, the internal clock that tells him when to let the horse go at top speed, the grit to make a space between horses where there isn’t one, these things can win or lose a race and they are variables the horse cannot decide for himself. 

I just hope they go easy on the sappy.  Too many times, the broadcasters focus too much on the “personal demons” or “family crises” off the track instead of the natural dramas that play out daily on the track.  A little bit of it goes a looong way.

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Filed under Jockeys, promoting racing