Animal Planet // 2009 // 240 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // October 1st, 2009
"It's an emotional roller coaster, this game. It's a month of preparation for me to mess it up in a minute."
If you've ever watched the Kentucky Derby, you've probably wondered about the recipe for those mint juleps you see everyone drinking. No, let's try that again. If you've ever watched the Kentucky Derby, or any bigtime horse race, you've probably wondered about what it's like to ride one of those powerful horses. Animal Planet's Jockeys follows the men and women who ride horses through a season at Santa Anita Race Track, leading up to the multimillion dollar Breeder's Cup.
Jockeys has twelve episodes, each about 20 minutes long:
* "At the Starting Gate"
Jockey Chantal Sutherland moves in with her boyfriend, Mike Smith, as she prepares for a season at Santa Anita.
Mike Smith rides Zenyatta; jockey Joe Talamo's also angling for a Breeder's Cup spot.
* "At What Cost?"
Jockeys talk about their struggles to keep their weight below 112 pounds.
Australian jockey Kayla Stra falls from her horse and considers returning home after a losing streak.
* "Living with the Competition"
Chantal comes in fourth in a race Mike won, and she's looking forward to the rematch.
Joe Talamo dates a trainer's daughter, and jockey Aaron Gryder gets a warning from the stewards.
* "May the Horse Be With You"
The stewards bring Joe Talamo before their panel.
* "Hands Down"
Alexis Solis rides his son's horse, and apprentice Brandon Meier makes a career decision.
* * "Legends of the Fallen"
Chantal Sutherland debates the choice between motherhood and horse racing. Angel Cordero and Julie Krone are among the legends returning to race.
* "Go Big or Go Home"
Curlin is one of the horses being readied for the Breeder's Cup.
As Chantal's parents arrive to watch her race in her first Breeder's Cup, Mike goes for a Cup record.
* "It All Comes Down To This"
Aaron prepares for "the most important race of his career," and Mike is once again riding Zenyatta.
You might be put off by the first couple of episodes of Jockeys, since watching races that have already been run isn't all that exciting. However, the series quickly shifts focus from the races to what the jockeys face in preparation and training. The segments that deal with steward inquiries get kind of repetitive -- it appears they like to sweat jockeys, but usually let them off with warnings -- but most of it is interesting. The episodes deal with the jockeys' personal lives, but not for soap opera; it's mainly to illustrate in general what jockeys experience. The eventual result is a low-key but interesting show about an unusual career. I did notice that the show tends to tip its hand about the outcomes of events, but I'd suspect that a racing enthusiast, the likely target audience for the show, already knows who won the Breeder's Cup.
The extras seem to be Animal Planet promotional shorts. There are five minisodes on some aspect of racing, such as "Jockey Myths" or "Work-Life Balance," from Aaron Gryder. They're not bad, but they're only a minute or two long, so there's not much depth. "Q&A" segments quiz viewers on the sport of racing, and then follow up the answers with anecdotes. I actually found these fun and interesting; you've got to check them out if you watch Jockeys. I'll note that Jockeys would have been a natural for text bios, but there aren't any.
While anyone looking for reality show histrionics might be disappointed, viewers looking for a glimpse into the lives of some intensely dedicated professionals will find Jockeys worth a look.
Review content copyright © 2009 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Animal Planet
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 240 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated