Commercials for Animal Planet’s “Jockeys” reality series have started appearing on the channel. I saw two during “Whale Wars.” They both have rock music and a unique angle of horses running at the camera. One has a quote indicating that a jockey would break every bone in their body to win a race. Both commercials list the month of February as the premiere date.
A December 4 New York Post story says that Animal Planet describes the show as “Million-dollar purses, model girlfriends and trips to the mall to shop in the boys’ department - Animal Planet brings viewers into a world . . . ruled by short men with silk shirts.”
“Jockeys” is produced by Go Go Luckey Productions, who also produced “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.” The popular MTV show featured well-off high school kids fighting over boyfriends and shopping.
Okay, so I’m not a fan of Go Go Luckey’s claim to fame, but there is no doubting the film quality and their ability to produce popular shows that spawn several follow-ups and celebrities from average people.
The series began filming on the penultimate day of racing at Fairplex Park and continued through the end of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet. The crew of about 10 people, including a producer and cameramen, followed the jockeys around the track from early morning to afternoon. I saw one cameraman riding along in the ambulance that trails every field during the races.
Track patrons were notified by signs outside the Santa Anita admission gates that by entering the premises, they consented to any use of their image in the filming of the show.
When filming began at Fairplex, I was shown a card with the jockeys they were following - Jon Court, Garrett Gomez, Aaron Gryder, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Chantal Sutherland, and Joe Talamo. Sutherland, the only female jockey featured, likely only left her home base of Woodbine so that she could be a part of the filming.
According to an Oct. 23 Los Angeles Times story, there are only six jockeys on the show. An Oct. 23 story from the Sports Business Journal says there are eight jockeys, including Brandon Meier, but leaving out Gomez.
Successful reality shows include extensive, creative cutting and editing to render an interesting story from something that in real life and real time would likely not be very interesting.
My first feeling about the “Jockeys” show is that it will be great publicity for the sport of horse racing. I am excited to see who and what they include, as many of the sights and sounds will be all too familiar to Southern California race-goers and industry insiders.
I also tense up at the thought that the edited image of the jockeys and horse racing may be an inaccurate portrayal, overdramatized and single-minded.
Ultimately, I am hopeful that professional athletes will provide for a better show than professional drama queens.