New Show Jockeys is a Winner

Reality shows are usually not my cup of tea, but as someone who has been around horse racing for most of my professional career, I was interested to see how the new Animal Planet reality show “Jockeys”  would measure up. This past Friday night I got my first look at the show and came away quite impressed.  The show accomplishes something that I feel the thoroughbred industry was hoping to convey, a showcase for the magnificent skills of jockeys.

For many Americans, their only real exposure to horse racing comes from watching the Kentucky Derby. When a horse captures mainstream media attention like Big Brown, Smarty Jones , Funny Cide and Barbaro did in ther quests for the Triple Crown, interest in the sport peaks.  But for those of us raised on the game, who love to venture out in the middle of the week during the summer to catch a few races at beautiful Monmouth Park and other racing establishments across the country, the new show ‘Jockeys” is a glimpse at reality.

It is a reality that takes a newcomer like Kayla Stra through the chores of walking the backstretch each morning looking for mounts from trainers and hoping her one ride on a race card can gain her the respect that will allow trainers to give her shots  in bigger races. It is also a showcase for a Hall of Famer like Mike Smith as he battles the younger breed of jockey trying to knock him off his perch. 

Perhaps the greatest reality is how the show depicts the danger facing each one of these jockeys as they ride thousand pound racehorses at 40 mph with no room for error.

As Alex Strachan wrote in the Calgary Sun, “After watching Jockeys, you may never watch the Queen’s Plate or Kentucky Derby the same way again.”

As a public relations vehicle, Jockeys showcases all the drama of thoroughbred racing. You could not write a better script. Whether it cashes in by luring new fans to the track and betting windows is the real challenge.

Tom Cosentino

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