Is Jockey Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Sundance Institute

‘Jockey’ follows an aging jockey, Jackson Silva, as he prepares for his last championship. The languid emotional drama delves into the world of horse tracks and the love that those involved in the sport of horse racing bring to the sport. As the championship nears, Jackson is approached by a young rookie who claims to be his son and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps as a jockey. The film follows a simple story that seems to be an authentic portrayal of the lives of jockeys. So just how much of ‘Jockey’ is based on a true story? We decided to find out.

Is Jockey Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Jockey’ is not based on a true story. The film is co-written by the director, Clint Bentley, and Greg Kwedar, who seemingly spent about three years developing the feature. The fictional lead character of Jackson Silva was also reportedly written for actor Clifton Collins Jr. by Bentley.

Despite its fictional story, it is worth noting that the horse racing backdrop of the film is quite authentic and arguably even real. Bentley’s introduction to the world of horse racing occurred at a tender age since his father was a jockey. Once he became a filmmaker, while working with his father around the barns, Bentley was struck by how he had not seen the rich world behind what goes on at a horse racetrack represented on film. This eventually made him want to tell the story of a jockey.

The making of the film also involved a good amount of research since Bentley had to now study horse racing from the perspective of an adult as opposed to his experiences as a child. The presence of Kwedar and Collins during the research process also reportedly gave the director a new perspective into the world of horse racing.

The film was shot in an actual working racetrack to keep things authentic, with a small crew of about 10 professional jockeys. In fact, there is a particular scene in the film where jockeys tell their stories and share their most memorable experiences in horse racing. According to the director, the jockeys depicted in this scene are real jockeys sharing their actual personal stories. Bentley explained that this is a better way to get across information about the world of horse racing instead of trying to cram it into dialogues.

Thus, ‘Jockey’ follows a relatively simple narrative that is fictional but could just as well be true. In fact, it seems as if the fictional story is used predominantly to give structure to the deep dive into the world of horse racing that director Clint Bentley’s film is. Apart from the director’s own familial connection to jockeys, the film’s authenticity factor is helped immensely by its setting — a real, working racetrack. Considering the director aims to show audiences the intriguing lives of jockeys, the inclusion of real-life jockeys in the film and the fact that they get to share their stories are the crowning jewels of the movie.

Read More: Best Horse Racing Movies