“Jockeys” wraps up a second season

* * DISCLAIMER: Before you click on the video link below, you need to know that Hulu may have an advertisement attached to this video for an adult-oriented product that may not be appropriate for this blog’s child readers. The commercial is not graphic, but suggestive. Probably because this video is from late-night TV. * *

Video of Joe Talamo’s recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien

This year, the second season of Animal Planet’s “Jockeys” took us down the Derby trail.

If you followed the Kentucky Derby prep races this spring and remember some of the Derby coverage, you’ll have an idea of what’s probably coming up next on the show’s season finale this Friday.

More or less. 😉

If you haven’t seen “Jockeys,” check it out on TV or through the website. Or via DVD of the first season.

This second season follows various members of the Santa Anita Park jockey colony, both on and off the track, during the winter meet. The first season followed the jockeys during the track’s Oaktree, or autumn, meet.

Last season, the show was both praised for its storytelling and criticized for pulling very few punches about the dangers of the sport.

The jockeys of season two/Photo courtesy Animal Planet

The jockeys of season two/Photo courtesy Animal Planet

As a TV insider, I have to admit that I don’t know what was editing for dramatic impact and what was actual documentation, but here are some highlights — and later, IMO, the low lights — of the season.

Highlights

* Aaron Gryder’s and Well-Armed’s romp to victory under the lights in Dubai. The show also mentioned the horse’s previous injury and celebrated his subsequent $6 million comeback.

* Chantal Sutherland and Kristin Mulhall’s shell game with the claiming race  Now I understand why, in the movie “Dreamer,” that little girl’s horse was entered in a claiming race.

* We got to see Chantal calming down horses before they run, thanks to a mic clipped to her silks. She’s been quoted as saying that she treats them like little kids.

* Speaking of running kids, Joe Talamo may be young, but he’s a class act. So’s Iggy Pugliesi, who isn’t a teenager. Iggy’s the personification of grit and determination as he forges ahead down the comeback trail.

* You see that many of the jockeys seem to like the horses. That the horses aren’t simply a resource used to get them to a payday. You see a spontaneity of affection between the jockeys and their favored mounts when they’re all off-the-clock in the backside.

Low lights

* Some of the top riders in the nation acted like 13-year-old punks while razzing Kyla Stra. You’re professionals, people. Is the jocks’ room really Delta House, circa 1962? Toga, toga, toga? Or did the filmmakers get everyone riled up just for the cameras?

* Sometimes, I felt as if I should go to the refrigerator to give some of the couples privacy to conduct their family discussions. Granted, those segments gave us an idea of how a jockey’s career affects his or her loved ones. But sometimes, it felt too personal for cameras.

* The impression that the Santa Anita regulars were watching the actual race when the Santa Anita jocks rode at other tracks, like to Churchill Downs or Aqueduct. I guess they were watching the actual race – via simulcast. But editing gave us the impression that they’d hopped on a plane and followed their jockeys on the road.

* Some horse people can recognize that the races are edited with clips of others added in. I understand why, but it’s not cool, even though producers make no bones about this being a “docu-drama” instead of a “documentary.”

* The canned race calls. I’m not the only one who cringes at the concept of the guy guy who apparently calls every race, everywhere. Granted, I’m sure that was done for continuity and budgetary reasons. But some of the new race fans who’ve come fresh from watching “Jockeys” might expect a more jockey-centric call during the Kentucky Derby next year, instead of the more traditional one of the horses’ names and numbers.

Still a good intro to the sport

Despite my quibbles, I stand by my assessment that “Jockeys” is a good show. It’s still “appointment television/a DVR must” in our house, even for my non-horsey husband. And the show has been a wonderful orientation for new and casual race fans, like my husband.

I’ve always been a proponent of showing the human stories behind sports. Usually, you only see that in broadcasts of major national or international events, like the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby.

Because, when you see the human stories, you see what’s really at stake. Not just money or a title. But vindication. Family security. And, in the case of thoroughbred racehorse jockeys, the ability to walk away to ride another day.

The show “Jockeys” shows that individuals make up the pack surging around the track. Frankly, two individuals per horse&rider team.

If you liked this post, check out previous posts about Animal Planet’s “Jockeys”

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