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What I Watched Last Night: Jockeys Joke

Years ago, perhaps before reality shows even existed, Homer Simpson was accused of sexually harassing the babysitter after he couldn't resist peeling the gummi Venus de Milo off her rear end. He went on the Rock Bottom show to explain, apologize and defend himself, doing a rather good job. But when the show aired, it was so heavily edited and cut, Homer looked like a guilty personification of evil. The clock on the wall in the background jumps to all different times to show how hacked the editing was. Funny. Or was it?

And so it is with Jockeys, the "reality" show that mercifully came to its season end last week. The show has jumped the shark like Willy the Whale over Navy Pier.

I don't know if I should be upset, because this is reality TV territory, right? We shouldn't expect accuracy or chronology, right?

It's the culmination of the Oak Tree Meet, Santa Anita's hosting of the Breeders Cup Championships. "Blood's been spilled, bones broken to get here." Sheesh! The producers, directors and writers - I have it from a good source that most of the scenes are staged - must have gotten tired of doing the show, because they sure got lazy. Every single fact and aspect of the Breeders Cup is presented incorrectly and out of chronological order. Of the 12 or 14 times they bellow "this is the second day of the world's richest racing" or the "Chantal's big day is tomorrow," 13 times they get it wrong. Our Chantal was done before happy hour the first day.

The Breeders Cup marketing people (I believe they are made up of Albert Brooks' bald men from New York from Lost in America) have made some real knuckleheaded decisions the past two years. They added races and split the card into two days, preventing working people like me from enjoying the Friday races. This year, they added a couple more races, and ran all the female races on Friday, depriving many of seeing Stardom Bound and Zenyatta in all their glory. They changed it from the Breeders Cup Distaff to the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. Cute. Smacks of Bobby Riggs, but he's dead, isn't he? And what about the foreign riders who came in and kicked some serious ass? The Jockeys crew just mangles the event.

It's not 14 straight races, its five at the end of the card Friday and nine at the end of the card Saturday. The winner of the Classic does not get the whole $5 million purse - this year all the connections of Ravens Pass received a total of $2,970,000. I'd be willing to bet Trevor Denman never called the Breeders Cup "the Super Bowl of racing." The NFL wouldn't allow the trademark infringement, and not even the BC marketing committee is that stupid. And Denman knows better. The BC is Thoroughbred horse racing at its top and most exciting level. The Super Bowl is the supreme example of a spectacle distilled to its most ridiculous in a league that does not even play its own game very well. Although everybody pronounces it "sheriffs" as in Cleavon Little of Rock Ridge, trainer John spells his name S-h-i-r-r-e-f-f-s (I believe everyone on TV mispronounces his name, but I've never had the chance to ask him). Jockeys has a huge graphic with "John Sherriffs" emblazoned. Nice try, but do you know how much race information is available in this world?

Mike Smith's mom comes out west and brings all his trophies with her. Who cares? Especially when they don't show the trophies! Mike and Chantal will be riding against each other in one of the BC races. Who cares? They don't.

We heard at least three times that Curlin is the modern Seabiscuit. Oh brother, give me a break with that gratuitous reference. "Curlin is invincible and will be nearly impossible to beat in the Classic." Well, Curlin came into that race under a huge question mark of whether he would be able to run well on the synthetic surface. He had already shown that while very good, he wasn't great on turf. He wasn't able to get hold of the Santa Anita plastic either. He finished fourth.

Dinner with Mike and Chantal and Chantal's folks left us wondering if any of the reaction shots we saw during the deadly dull small talk even took place that night. Chantal reaction shot, Mr. Sutherland reaction shot, Mike Smith reaction shot - I think they might have just been belching in anticipation of the next course. Back at the track, cut in a reaction shot of Mike Smith's mother looking like "what the hell is that idiot son of mine doing with this horse?" I think it was more like "I didn't sign up for this, so get the damn cameras the hell out of my face."

Jon Court gets beaten bad on Orthodox, but no surprise there. By the way, Orthodox runs this weekend in the Lane's End with Jesus Castanon aboard. Court didn't make the trip to ride him and that speaks volumes.

What Bob Baffert said: "Aaron Gryder's been around . . . a smart rider. Just hasn't had the opportunity of some of these other guys."

What Bob Baffert meant: "He's more of a Grade 3 or lesser stakes, maybe Grade 2, rider. No better."

This is the ride of Chantal's life. Yeah, I know, for the twentieth time. But she ain't gonna beat Mikey on Stardom Bound and everybody knows it.

One funny moment was Jimmy the Hat drinking the Kool-Aid, or so it seems in Realityville, and putting down abut $700 on Curlin. That's nothing to him, but they make it look like he's all in on just Curlin. Man, I hope not. I could see he wasn't going to win the race with the way the track was playing that day. My win in the Classic made my day.

So in the next year, I need two things to happen. Chicago 2016 gets ashcanned and the chief forgets to ask me to review the second season of Jockeys. Any order will do.

Editor's Note: Wish granted! Now let's go do something about those Olympics . . .

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Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He's been following Jockeys this season both in this space and in his TrackNotes column. Previously:

* Sex, death threats and Jimmy the Hat.

* The bywords are dejection and overdubbing.

* The brat of the pack.

* The Kid at Harlem Ave.

* Getting sudsy.

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See what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.



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Posted on March 20, 2009


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