Here’s a twist.
It might not be a horse that saves the sport of horse racing. It might be a jockey.
Joe Talamo, a 19-year-old from Louisiana with a charming blend of teenage cockiness and a veteran’s coldblooded instinct for riding a horse through traffic, might just move from being a reality television star to Saturday’s winning jockey at the Kentucky Derby.
And that would be great, according to jockey-analyst-actor Gary Stevens, who will serve as Kentucky Derby co-host Saturday on Channel 4 with Bob Costas and Tom Hammond.
Talamo became something of an underground TV sensation during the Animal Planet series “Jockeys” that portrayed life at the racetrack through the eyes of the riders at Santa Anita.
Stevens has watched Talamo work his horse, favorite I Want Revenge, and work the media.
“Joe’s had a smile on his face all week and been a superstar,” Stevens said. “With this reality show thing he’s got going, if he were to win the Derby, it would be huge because the younger generation knows him from the show. They aren’t fans of horse racing, but they’re fans of Joe Talamo.”
Karros on the rise
Eric Karros gets a prime spot on Fox this weekend, joining Joe Buck in calling the Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets game Saturday on Channel 11 at 12:30 p.m. while Tim McCarver gets the weekend off.
Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, considers Karros a potential baseball broadcasting star.
“He’s developed his talents quickly, not just in games but in the studio. His future is bright,” said Goren, who noted that Karros also did a Little League World Series for ESPN.
“He was a joy to listen to,” Goren said. “Shortly after that, Eric was available again and we signed him.” And, like Howie Long, “Eric is a big guy physically and I find a lot of big men to be soft-spoken. Eric has had to learn to show emotion and sell his points.”
Karros gave particular thanks to former player and ESPN broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe for being a mentor. He also credited Stu Nahan for telling him to have fun on the air. As for the future? Someday, he said, broadcasting for the Dodgers “would be a dream.”
Some NFL bragging
Take this, hockey. According to the NFL Network, it averaged 804,000 viewers for its draft coverage, 82% higher than the average of 442,000 who tuned in to first-round NHL playoff action on Versus last weekend.
Say what, Rick Fox?
Several readers mentioned they thought Fox was a little too goofy for his own good during FS West’s broadcast of the final Lakers-Utah playoff game. Fox imitated a Mexican surfer and did a much-replayed imitation of the Wolverine superhero in the “X-Men” movie, a role Academy Awards host Hugh Jackman owns. Fox Sports spokeswoman Whitney Garvens said Rick Fox was unavailable for comment because he was on his way to Africa. He won’t be on any Lakers shows next week.
It’s an Orange County kind of night. The Angels visit the Yankees at 4 p.m. on FS West and the Ducks are at Detroit in the NHL playoffs at 4 p.m. on Versus. And at noon on the Golf Channel, Tiger Woods will be in the field for the Quail Hollow Championship. (He’s from Orange County too, and was leading after one round.)
Good on Saturday
Kentucky Derby coverage begins at noon on ESPN and switches to Channel 4 at 1 p.m., with post time for the Derby race itself at 3:04 p.m., but really, enjoy the whole day. Make a mint julep, put on a goofy hat and feel part of the experience. Or you could put on skates and hockey pads and watch Pittsburgh at Washington at 10 a.m. on Channel 4 and see Sidney Crosby versus Alexander Ovechkin.
Good on Sunday
Ducks and Red Wings are on NBC, at 11 a.m., Channel 4. But mostly the NBA takes over. Dallas at Denver on Channel 7 at 12:30 can help Lakers fans size up possible Western Conference finals opponents.