Courtesy of The Discovery Channel

'Jockeys' Won't Be Renewed for Third Season

Animal Planet declines to bring back the documentary-style series due to low ratings.

Animal Planet will not renew the television series "Jockeys" for a third season, an executive producer for the program said Feb. 10.

"The show just didn't get as wide an audience as they would have hoped for," said the program's co-producer Liz Bronstein, explaining the network's decision.

Bronstein's company, Go-Go Lucky Productions, developed the documentary-style program along with co-producer Tina Gazzerro. The series followed several members of the Southern California riding colony in weekly episodes that were mostly shot at Santa Anita Park, giving viewers an inside view of the sport.

"Jockeys" debuted on Animal Planet one year ago with 12 half-hour episodes and was brought back for a second season last August with seven shows aired in one-hour time blocks. Among the jockeys drawing much of the focus were Mike Smith, Chantal Sutherland, Joe Talamo, Aaron Gryder and Jon Court.

"They absolutely loved, loved, loved the content," Bronstein said of Animal Planet, "So it wasn't that. The stories were great."

"Jockeys" could be faulted for occasionally overdoing the sensational or dangerous aspects of the sport, but it received mostly good reviews in the general press and had developed a solid following among fans of horse racing. While it had some cross-over appeal to non-fans, it apparently was not strong enough for Animal Planet to justify bringing it back.

According to published reports, "Jockeys" drew more than one million viewers for its debut in February 2009 and totaled 9.2 million for its first season on the air. The audience for the second season fell below one million per week.

Darrell Haire, the western regional representative for the Jockeys' Guild and a consultant for the show, was disappointed that "Jockeys" won't be returning. He said that the show "accomplished its goal" by reaching non-racing fans, but that airing it on Friday nights hurt ratings.

"We were not getting the 22-to-30 (year-old) audience," Haire said. "But I've always felt good about it. The last seven episodes, especially, were great."

"You watch these reality shows and they are all so scripted," he said. "At least this was real. This was not scripted. People who watched it really got the feeling of what it is like to be a jockey. It was a good experience for everybody. Nobody had ever seen before what it's like to be inside that jocks' room."

"The disappointing thing is that are so many great stories that were never told," Haire added.

Bronstein said she enjoyed working with the jockeys on developing story lines and was especially satisfied that she and the program's film crew "gained acceptance" from the riders.

"By the second season, it was the jockeys who were making suggestions to us for story ideas," she noted.

Bronstein said there are no plans to re-package the show for the future or to pitch it to another network.

The boxed DVD set for the second season, "Jockeys: Ride of a Lifetime," went on sale Feb. 9. Distributed by Animal Planet, it costs $29.95.