Jockeys playing basketball? Fun to watch, bad to bet

Psst. Here’s a tip: Don’t bet on the Santa Anita jockeys basketball team.

Wagering on jockeys Joe Talamo, Cory Nakatani and Rafael Bejarano might be a good idea while these guys are holding a whip and a horse’s reins. But when they tie up their Nike Air Zooms and pick up a basketball, gamblers should keep their money in their pockets. 

Oh sure, these riders are nice people and it’s fun to watch jockeys like Brice Blanc, David Flores and Kayla Stra scamper around the court. But why would a group of grown-ups who stand just over 5-feet tall and weigh 115 pounds spend much time honing their basketball skills?

They wouldn’t. And they don’t.

That much was evident Thursday at La Salle High School in Pasadena when the Santa Anita jockeys lost to a group of eighth graders from Holy Angels School in Arcadia 35-19. 

It’s easy to see that these jockeys don’t play much ball by watching the one-minute You Tube video below of the game, which was shot by SA blogger Mary Forney.

We see Nakatani clanking a couple of free throws, the ref moving another mistaken jock off the key during the shots, and a Santa Anita field goal try that went bad after a sweet set-up move. I don’t know, maybe their coach TV’s Kurt Hoover was to blame.

But what I do know is that if this match was a horse race, it was as dominant a victory for the school kids as Smarty Jones’ 11-1/2 length win in the 2004 Preakness Stakes.

The riders might have lost, but as usual, the annual game seemed to be a hugely popular and entertaining event. The jockeys play the Holy Angels every year to raise money for the school’s athletic department.

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