Eight jockeys who regularly ride at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area have signed contracts to be part of a reality series tentatively titled "Jockeys" and expected to air on the Animal Planet network in the first quarter of 2009. The series will focus on the high-pressure life of jockeys, who spend their days riding 1,200-pound thoroughbreds at high speeds and whose pay depends on how well their mounts perform.
Animal Planet is filming 12 episodes of 30 minutes each. Chick Foret, a New Orleans lawyer who is the personal attorney to 18-year-old jockey Joe Talamo, negotiated the contracts for the eight riders. Darrell Haire, the Western regional manager of the Jockeys' Guild, was also involved in the negotiations with the jockeys and will serve as a technical adviser on the show. Foret said that he was able to negotiate terms for the jockeys that included "some compensation." He would not be more specific on financial terms.
The show is expected to show jockeys in a positive light and will shy away from some of the dark sides of the profession, including the bulimia (known in the business as "flipping") that some jockeys engage in to make weight. Foret and Haire said jockeys hope the show will bring more fans to the sport of horse racing. In addition to Talamo, jockeys who signed deals are Alex Solis, Chantal Sutherland, Jon Court, Mike Smith, Aaron Gryder, Kayla Stra and Brandon Meier.
The show began filming at the start of Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet in late September and was to culminate this past weekend with the filming of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.