Victor Espinoza

Victor Espinoza

Anne M. Eberhardt

Riding and Dancing No Sweat for Espinoza

TV show commitment not expected to interfere with jockey's primary job.

After the dust settles from the first session of the Keeneland September yearling sale Sept. 14, the Thoroughbred racing world can unwind watching jockey Victor Espinoza's "Dancing with the Stars" debut on ABC.

The show, which begins at 8 p.m. EDT Monday, will run for 10 weeks. Espinoza, who earlier this year rode Zayat Stables' American Pharoah  to capture the first Triple Crown in 37 years, will stay on the program only as long as he and dance partner Karina Smirnoff survive judges' points and fan votes.

"He could be off the first week or could go five," said Brian Beach, Espinoza's agent. "Being on the show exposes Victor to an audience that may not know anything about him or racing. That's our hope."

Juggling riding and a television show poses logistical issues, but the commitment won't threaten Espinoza's schedule.

"The shows are taped on Mondays, and that doesn't interfere," Beach said. "They've sent (Smirnoff) to Del Mar so they could rehearse around (Victor's) racing schedule, and if he has to leave town they send her with him."

So it doesn't appear "Dancing With the Stars" will get in the way of Espinoza's primary job of riding racehorses such as American Pharoah, who is penciled in for the Oct. 31 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

"It won't jeopardize that," Beach said. "That takes precedence."