TVG Startac Documentary a Big Hit -- Review

TVG debuted it's new documentary series "TVG Insider" Tuesday night, telling the story of trainer Simon Bray's "Arizona Experiment," in which he sent his grass specialist Startac to the Turf Paradise Derby to run on the dirt for the first time. The documentary chronicled the weeks leading up to the race, concluding with Startac's explosive victory.

If future documentaries are as entertaining and revealing as "The Arizona Experiment," TVG has a big winner on its hands. Producer Scott Eberly has put together a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at everyday life on the backstretch, while mixing it with roller coaster-like emotions, from Bray having to deal with the death of one of his top fillies to the anxious moments at Turf Paradise waiting for the arrival of Startac, who was three hours late. And finally the exultation of Startac's spectacular victory and Bray's realization that he and his colt had taken the first step on the Kentucky Derby trail. As Bray said to co-owner Michael Paulson on the phone after the race, "It's time to start dreaming."

The TVG camera was virtually everywhere – at the barn in the darkness of early morning as Bray arrived, inside Startac's stall, on the track as the colt worked for the big race, in Bray's office as he went over the Derby nominations to try to get a feel for the competition, in the box area with Bray as he watched another of his horses burst through a small opening on the rail to win going away, and finally at Turf Paradise on race day, showing Bray waiting at the barn, listening to the call of another victory over the phone, conversing with fellow Southern California trainers Dick Mandella, Vladimir Cerin, and Mike Mitchell, and watching on TV as Startac came from the back of the pack to steamroll by the entire field.

TVG took the viewers to places they had never been, and the result was a documentary certainly worthy of serious Eclipse Award consideration.