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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

April 26, 2004|Larry Stewart

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What: "Jockey"

Where: HBO, tonight, 8

In September 2002, there was a segment on HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" about what jockeys go through to make weight. It focused on Randy Romero, who retired in 1999 because of liver and kidney failure caused by years of self-induced vomiting. The practice is called flipping.

Out of that segment on Romero and what flipping had done to him comes this powerful 90-minute documentary that expands on the story.

Romero, his friend Shane Sellers and Chris Rosier are the featured jockeys. They tell their stories in their own words. There is no narrator.

The documentary was filmed at Churchill Downs in Louisville by Kate Davis, who was given tremendous access. Sometimes too much. Showing full nudity shots of Rosier in the shower -- not once but twice -- seems unnecessary.

The graphic shots of Romero being stuck with needles while in the hospital is something else that could have been edited out. But overall, the documentary is well done.

The jockeys are candid as they talk about this aspect of their profession.

"People don't know what riders go through," Sellers says. "It's a secret."

Not any longer. HBO and Davis have made sure of that. And maybe their efforts are paying off. As the documentary points out in the end, some racetracks are making moves toward raising weight minimums.

-- Larry Stewart

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