Wednesday, 2 April, 2008 8:57 PM
Purse Winner Exposes Horse Racings Dirty Secret: Jockey Eating
courtesy of www.itspostime.com
Superstar jockey Shane Sellers seemed to have it all: turning
pro in the sport horse racing he loved so much as
kid, winning over 4,000 races and $122 million in purses and finding
a soul mate in his wife Kelli. But as candidly revealed in his rags
to riches to rags autobiography, Freedoms Rein,
Sellers demons from an abusive childhood haunted his personal
and professional life to the point of a near overdose death and
a brief banishment from the sport.
As documented by author
Tricia Psarreas, Sellers used The Sport of Kings to
escape the grasp of an alcoholic father and quickly found another
family in his fellow jockeys, who showed him the ropes and passed
down extreme tips to make outdated weight requirements. Sellers
recalls, We would starve, eat, heave, sweat and then try to
control an animal that weighs ten times what we did.
According to Sellers,
the daily ritual for most jockeys would be to avoid eating to meet
industry requirements (often a 112 pound maximum). If that wasnt
good enough, in order to mount and have the possibility to earn
money, slightly overweight jockeys would then resort
to pulling weight, sitting in hot boxes
(intense saunas) for hours at a time to sweat off extra pounds.
Flipping (bulimia) was so common that most tracks had
special toilets (heaving bowls) installed in the jocks lounge
to keep the pipes from clogging.
The industry had
to be aware of what was going on because there were signs on the
walls saying wed be fined if we were caught heaving in the
wrong type of bowl, remembers Sellers.
Why go through all that
pain? Because once you are in the game, the game is in you,
answers Sellers. I am not just a former jockey; I am the games
biggest fan. That, coupled with the untimely deaths of jockeys
trying to make weight, is why hes advocated for change concerning
the industrys rules on endorsements, weight limits and on-track
The lengths others
and I have gone through to mount and possibly earn fifty dollars,
while having little to no protections insurance-wise for ourselves
and our families, are unacceptable, Sellers powerfully contends.
No more jockeys should have to die for the chance to ride.
His activism has been successful, but came with a price.
In addition to a temporary
banishment from Churchill Downs tracks, unresolved anger issues
stemming from his childhood almost cost Sellers his family and life.
A near overdose on the very day of actor Heath Ledgers death
resulted in Sellers entering rehab. His anger issues also forced
him to work hard to fix his fractured marriage. Psarreas, Freedoms
Rein co-author, says Sellers story isnt just about
horse racing because he openly shares tales of domestic abuse, battles
with addiction and the heartbreak of trying to maintain a marriage
while in the midst of a mental breakdown.
Despite the rollercoaster
career, Sellers still maintains, Horse racing is a magnificent
sport and with a few adjustments, it could be perfect. He
is calling for unity, If anybody wants to make changes in
order for the whole industry to flourish, they have to work together.
But as Sellers knows, the initial step toward fixing a problem is
first admitting that there is one even if it means exposing
the dirtiest of secrets.
About Shane Sellers
Shane Sellers started
riding horses at the age of 11 and became a professional jockey
by the time he was 16. Over the course of his career, Sellers won
over 4,000 races and over $122 million in purses. He was also the
leading jockey advocate for issues like low jockey weights, endorsements
and on-track insurance. Because of his activism, jockeys are now
allowed to ride with endorsements, weight maximums have gone up
a few pounds and the on-track insurance policy has increased from
$100,000 to $1,000,000. Portions of Sellers story have also
been seen in HBOs controversial documentary, Jockey.
He and his wife, Kelli, have three children together: Shali, Saban
and Steiner. More information can be found online at www.FreedomsRein.com.
About Tricia Psarreas
Tricia Psarreas owns
a successful freelance writing company called The Brighter Writer
and has clients from five different continents. While she has ghostwritten
a number of books, Freedoms Rein is her first
book to feature her name on the cover.
Source: News and Experts