by Fran Jurga | 15 January 2009 | The Jurga Report on equisearch.com
What: "Jockeys" documentary/reality tv series
When: Friday nights in February, beginning February 6, at 9 PM ET/PT
Where: Animal Planet, found on most cable providers
Who: This cross-section of California Thoroughbred racing's colorful iron men and women is a docu-soap producer's dream, including this lineup, as described by the network:
?THE ICON - Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is a living legend and a fan favorite. His fierce riding style and stringent pre-race ritual has earned him a shaman-like reputation among fellow jockeys.
?THE HOTSHOT - Joe Talamo may be young, but he already has taken the racing world by storm earning nearly $4 million in purse money in one racing season.
?THE BREAKOUT FEMALE STAR - Canadian jockey star Chantal Sutherland is a woman who's dominating the tracks. And, because she's dating fellow jockey Mike Smith, it puts her in competition with the man she loves. Can they make this work?
?THE WORKING MAN - Aaron Gryder is credited with more than 3,000 career wins and is motivated by supporting his family.
?THE ELDER STATESMAN - After racing more than 30 years, Jon Court is the consummate veteran, and he has no plans to quit.
?THE NEW GIRL - Fresh-faced Kayla Stra is racing gold in her native land of Australia, but only time will tell if she has what it takes to be a success in the US.
?THE COMEBACK KID - Alex Solis bounced back after a broken back injury nearly took his life. He's been to the winner's circle 4,000 times, but he's yet to be inducted into the Jockey Hall of Fame.
For these jockeys, everything they have is riding on the 30 days of last fall's Oak Tree fall racing series at California's Santa Anita racetrack, which lead up to the two most important days of the entire racing year: The Breeders' Cup.
But the real stars of the show are sure to be the horses, the danger, and the adrenalin that drive all toward the elusive finish line.
Whether you love racing or hate it, you must agree that the amazing atheletic ability of jockeys and the pressure they live under is the stuff of great drama, and it's doubtful the cameras will sugarcoat the grisly side of life at the track. It won't be all limousines and champagne.
The new synthetic racing surface just installed at Santa Anita was untested when the filming began. It was surely another challenge to the jockeys. The timing for the series to have been filmed is amazing.
Watch for more news about the series here on The Jurga Report. Bookmark this blog now, or click on the links on the right to subscribe to the RSS feed.
Jockey Alex Solis studies the facts and figures on his competition in the next race. (Animal Planet Photo)