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Animal Planet’s Jockey Chantal SutherlandMove over, Heidi Klum and Paris Hilton. You’ve got company on reality television.

The thrills. The spills. The rivalries and romances. And yes, the racing, too. It’s all there in a new 12-part documentary television series, “Jockeys,” that begins tonight, Feb. 6, at 9 p.m. EST on Animal Planet.

The series, which will be broadcast in high definition in two half-hour episodes each Friday over the next six weeks, promises to take the viewer inside the world of jockeys in a way that nothing has before. Filmed mostly during last fall’s Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, the previews for the series seem to focus on the danger aspect of the profession. But all the angles will be covered, both on and off the track, promise the show’s executive producers  Liz Bronstein and Tina Gazzero.

The seven jockeys – Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Canadian import Chantal Sutherland, teenager Joe Talamo, veterans Jon Court, Aaron Gryder and Alex Solis, and Australian newcomer Kayla Stra – agreed to allow the cameras to follow them both at the track and in their private lives believing the series will give horse racing much needed exposure to the general public.

The riders are seen scrambling to secure mounts for the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, where purses range from $1 million to $5 million. Winning just one of the races can set a jockey up for a good year financially and lend prestige to their resume.

Some of the jockeys wore microphones while riding, allowing viewers rare audio of their adrenaline-charged comments.

So what’s it like for an athlete who barely weights 100 pounds to ride a 1,200-pound animal at speeds up to 40 mph in a 2-minute race? Find out in tonight’s episode, “Win or Die Trying.”

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February 6, 2009

New reality show takes viewers into lives of Jockeys

Move over, Heidi Klum and Paris Hilton. You’ve got company on reality television. The thrills. The spills. The rivalries and romances. And yes, the racing, too. […]