Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chantal Sutherland Off to a Great Start at Santa Anita

Chantal Sutherland walking ring
Wow! Great ride by Chantal Sutherland in today's fifth race at Oak Tree Santa Anita (see photo in the saddling paddock before the race), finishing 2nd by a neck on Weevescent to heavy favorite Cajun Corredor (Bejarano up). Weevescent broke in front, and Sutherland quickly settled him into mid-pack in the 9-horse field. Going 5 wide in the far turn, Weevescent came flying down the stretch in the middle of the track and looked like he would have caught the winner in one more jump. Very exciting race to watch and a super ride - congratulations to Chantal and trainer, Marcelo Polanco!


ManuelB said...

I have followed Chantal's career almost from the beginning at Woodbine, in Toronto, where I live. I was very happy to see her return here last year, after several years of being a marginal rider in the U.S. I had always thought that she had extraordinary talent and the summer of 2007 confirmed it. She finished 7th in the standings even though she wasn't getting too many really good mounts. Her winter at Santa Anita was also good but pales now, in comparison to her season at Woodbine in 2008. She started a little late and it took time for her to get going but by the beginning of October she was third in the standings in total wins, money earned and win percentage and was tied for the lead in stakes won. Under these circumstances her decision to return to Santa Anita, two months before the end of the Woodbine season is incomprehensible if she wants to be considered a serious rider and not a fringe player. While her participation in the "reality" TV show is the ostensible reason for her move, it does her future as a top rider no favors. If I were her agent here, who worked so hard to get her where she was, or one of the many trainers who went out of their way to support her when she wasn't winning I would be very disappointed. I know that as her fan, I am. Perhaps there are other reasons that I am not priviledged to know, but on the face of it, it has been a strange decision. What do others think?

Mary Forney's Blog said...

I definitely feel your pain, Manuel! But, selfishly, I am also really happy to have a chance to watch Chantal compete up close here at Santa Anita. I also think it was a good career move for her, and I can certainly see why she made the move. With Breeders Cup being held at Santa Anita this year and next, it is definitely the place to be, especially now, when she can get out on the new synthetic "Pro-Ride" track a lot. She earned a Breeders Cup mount on VAN LEAR ROSE when she won the Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine. VAN LEAR ROSE is pre-entered in the $2 million Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Chantal also rode MINE THAT BIRD to victory in the Grey S. at Woodbine. MINE THAT BIRD was subsequently sold and is now trained by Santa Anita-based Richard Mandella, who said Chantal is one of the jockeys he is considering for the Breeders Cup Juvenile.

And finally, Chantal is taking part, along with jockey Mike Smith, in the filming at Santa Anita of the new series, "Jockeys," which will debut on Animal Planet in February. All in all, I believe Chantal can provide a wonderful PR boost for racing in general. Hope you follow her exploits on my blog! Thanks for the comment.

zraces said...

I am certainly happy she moved her tack here, as she was riding my horses last winter and I was thrilled with her . She is a real professional, and is a great help in developing young horses. I have her on a first time starter Thursday

ManuelB said...

Thanks for your response, Mary. Chantal may have opportunities related to the Breeders Cup by being at Santa Anita, but she'll have to get much better mounts than she had last winter. The two that you mention are horses that she rode here and would probably have had the mounts anyway (or at least Van Lear Rose, since the other one changed hands). My point is that from a racing perspective, not from the perspective of being an asset for racing, which I agree is more likely in California than in Toronto, her opportunities here in Toronto are far better. In 5 months here she won 89 races (at a 15% clip), including 12 Stakes, and almost $5M in purses. I sincerely doubt that this is going to happen in California. That said, it's her life to lead as she wishes. I am just a disappointed fan.

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