Animal Planet’s JOCKEYS Expanded to an Hour; New Series Airs Late Summer 2009


by Fran Jurga | 23 March 2009 | The Jurga Report at

Will Canadian jockey Chantal Sutherland find love and career success at Santa Anita? Animal Planet will continue to follow her romantic and equine exploits in an extension of the reality series JOCKEYS. Still unknown: why do so many jockey silks include those little bow ties? (Animal Planet photo)

Do you miss the thrills and spills (there certainly were a lot of those) of the Animal Planet reality series JOCKEYS? The inaugural run of the series ended March 13 but Animal Planet announced today that the filming will resume and that the episodes will be expanded to an hour each for the sophomore season.

Adding to the intrigue will be the addition to two very well known jockeys, Garrett Gomez and Corey Nakatani, who join California regulars Aaron Gryder, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland and Joe Talamo. Original cast member John Court will not return, as he is relocating to Kentucky.

The freshman season brought Animal Planet viewers into the lives of jockeys who raced at the renowned Santa Anita Race Track during 2009’s 30-day Oak Tree meet, the first racing done on the track’s new Pro-Ride artificial surface.

The successful first season brought in more than 9.2 million unique viewers, so Animal Planet plans a quick followup second season order with seven hour-long episodes set to premiere late this summer.

This season, viewers also can expect to see more of professional handicapper Jimmy the Hat and West Coast Regional Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, Darrell Haire.

Let’s hope they remember that the horses are the reason that many of us watched the series…and that the network is, after all, called “Animal” Planet. JOCKEYS gets ten bonus points and a gold star in my book for the links on its web site to CANTER and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

More mention of what becomes of the horses after the jockeys hop off for the last time would be a great addition to the series. At a track like Santa Anita, there’s nowhere to go but down; horses that don’t succeed there are dropped down in class to cheaper races at cheaper tracks. If one of the jockeys spoke out about Thoroughbred retirement and/or welfare issues in racing, this series would really win my heart.?

Likewise, the producers could find the horses that the jocks rode in the first series and ask “Where are they now?” I’d like to know, wouldn’t you? Or is asking a reality show to have a conscience too much to ask?

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