What does it take to be a Kentucky Derby winning jockey? From zero to 35 mph in a matter of seconds! Experience the strength, stamina, and courage it takes as each jockey guides you through wining the Kentucky Derby aboard a Thoroughbred racehorse full of heart. Seven world-class jockeys relive the most thrilling ride of their lives, describing how they use their entire bodies and the power of the reins to become champions in their finest hour. Seasoned racing writers Joe Drape and Billy Reed explain the complexities of a jockey's job--the cunning and foresight that make Kentucky Derby jockeys some of the toughest, most competitive athletes in all of sports. Jockeys' wives Rita Santos and Sheila Day share what it means to live with horse racing's constant dangers and monumental successes. Trainers John Ward, Carl Nafzger, and John Sadler explain how they choose a jockey with the intelligence and skill needed to bring their Thoroughbred first under the wire at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
00:03Copy video clip URL The tape opens on racehorses jumping from the gates, before cutting to Jerry Bailey — noted as a two-time Kentucky Derby winner. He speaks about how difficult it is to win the Kentucky Derby, noting that oftentimes the favorite horse finishes in the last place. The tape then cuts to Craig Perret, a winner, speaking about his experience in the derby. Kent Desormeaux, another two-time winner, also speaks, saying that he “went absolutely blind” in the final stage of the race and only came to when he crossed the finish line. Jose Santos, the 2003 winner, struggles to describe his emotions upon winning. Gary Stevens, a three-time winner, and Mike Smith also reflect on their experiences. The common theme throughout is just how difficult the Kentucky Derby is to win.
01:50Copy video clip URL A narrator explains that these jockeys are perhaps the most under-appreciated of all athletes. He notes that they use their entire bodies to will these horses to victory, requiring strength, stamina, and courage.
02:30Copy video clip URL The title slide plays, reading “Thunder and Reins.” Executive producing credits go to Eleanor B. Miller while Directing and editing ones go to Bruce Skinner.
02:50Copy video clip URL Billy Reed explains why he sees the Derby as the most prestigious race in the world. He examines the many facets of the event which make the Kentucky Derby unique. Another journalist, Joe Drape, also speaks about his opinions of the Derby. He compares the sport of horse racing to that of NASCAR, especially the importance of driver and vehicle working in perfect harmony.
04:15Copy video clip URL Rita Santos, Jose Santos’ wife, speaks about how wide the set of opportunities available to jockeys is. She notes how much of an honor it is for a jockey to race in the Kentucky Derby. Two other insiders, as well as Craig Perret, and Sheila Day — Pat Day’s husband — all echo that thought.
05:50Copy video clip URL A man says that “pound-for-pound,” he believes that jockeys are the best athletes in the world. several other insiders echo that thought, noting the mental and physical attributes which are required to be a good jockey.
07:15Copy video clip URL Gary Stevens tells the story of the of his win riding Winning Colors in 1988. He goes into great detail on the facets of the race, especially how he approached it.
09:00Copy video clip URL John Ward speaks on the importance of the horse, and how you have to treat them and work with them. Several other men speak about various parts of horse training, emphasizing various features of that process.
11:10Copy video clip URL The discussion then turns to jockeys, and what constitutes a good relationship between jockey and horse.
12:20Copy video clip URL The tape begins to focus on Craig Berret, who has been racing horses since he was six years old. Berret himself then notes that — in his mind — the only race that matters is the Kentucky Derby. Berret then tells the story of how he won the 1990 Derby.
15:45Copy video clip URL Jerry Bailey returns, speaking about the athletic abilities required of jockeys. Several different jockeys break down the various demands on the jockeys’ bodies throughout the course of the race. They also speak about how a jockey can feel the horse’s decision making through their feet.
18:15Copy video clip URL Billy Reed kicks off a discussion of Pat Day and his Derby win in 1992. Reed notes that the Derby which Day won was one where he was largely overlooked as an underdog. Day then breaks down his win himself and analyzes the feeling of winning.
21:20Copy video clip URL The focus turns to Jerry Bailey, and his win in 1993 riding Sea Hero. His trainer commends him, and Billy Reed explains that it was Bailey’s riding which allowed Sea Hero to win that race. Bailey himself then walks through his win, saying that every time he needed a space to run through, one appeared. Bailey notes how emotional the win was for him, saying it still chokes him up an entire decade later.
23:30Copy video clip URL Jerry Bailey then speaks about injuries in jockeying, saying he’s broken 21 bones. He also notes that this is the only race where an ambulance follows the racers. Several other jockeys then speak, telling their personal stories of injury. Rita Santos also speaks about injuries, commending her husband for his resilience. A haunting clip is shown of Gary Stevens’ fall in which he was struck on the head by a hoof after he fell off his horse after crossing the finish line in first. Rita Santos returns again, saying that she absolutely dreads bad news about her husband. She also notes that all jockeys’ families feel each others’ pain.
27:00Copy video clip URL As several jockeys continue speaking on injuries, as well as Rita Santos, a few more clips of gruesome injuries are shown.
28:10Copy video clip URL The story of Gary Stevens, who won in 1997 riding Silver Charm, begins. Stevens notes how confident he was going into the race, and that his job was really only to put his horse in the right position.
30:20Copy video clip URL Joe Drape examines the split-second decision making that defines a good jockey, laying out the complexities with a jockey contends with. Gary Stevens explains that one of his big considerations is rationing his horse to ensure that he has enough horse to finish the race.
32:20Copy video clip URL Kent Desormeaux, the 1998 winner riding Real Quiet, has his story told. Desormeaux tells of his experience on race day, and all the considerations he made prior to the race and as it began. He then walks through the race itself, eventually telling of his emotions upon winning.
35:20Copy video clip URL Next comes Jose Santos and the story of his 2003 win riding Funny Cide. Joe Drape tells of the special bond between Jose Santos and his horse. Santos then explains the process of his win and reflects on how special it was.
38:10Copy video clip URL Joe Drape begins an exploration of the horse-jockey relationship by saying that he sees jockeys as being there to ensure that a horse doesn’t lose — to ensure that a horse is placed in a winning position. Several trainers then explain what they look for in a jockey, especially how they work with their horse. Many of them echo Drape’s thoughts in some form. Rita Santos says that she sees luck as a huge factor in a jockey’s success.
40:10Copy video clip URL The story of Mike Smith’s 2005 win with Giacomo begins with Smith saying that he was very confident prior to the race. He then breaks down the various parts of the race, and then the feeling of winning the Derby.
42:20Copy video clip URL Various clips from around Churchill Downs are shown, as well as other horse racing-related b-roll.
44:30Copy video clip URL A start of the Kentucky Derby is shown, and the credits begin to roll.
47:33Copy video clip URL The credits end and the tape cuts.