About this time last year, Chantal Sutherland was plying her trade in Kentucky, struggling to get mounts and to Win races.
She was miserable- having Won just 11 races in 2020, the worst year of her career.
“I was just not in a good place,” she said. “I was really struggling there. I couldn’t believe how no one would give me a shot.”
One thing was clear, if she wanted to stay in the game she had to move on and try someplace else.
A year later, after a move to Gulfstream Park, Sutherland, 45, is in the midst of a remarkable comeback. With 29 Wins, she finished 2nd in the Gulfstream standings at the recently concluded meet.
“I can’t even tell you how grateful and happy I am for this opportunity,” she said. “That’s why I am taking every single minute to be my best, do my best and be there for the people who support me. I am just so grateful.”
After she Won 152 races with earnings of $8,778,038 in 2010, Sutherland struggled to maintain those numbers.
She Won 32 races in 2014 before briefly retiring to focus on starting a family.
“I got married and I wanted to try to have a baby,” she said. “I’m not married anymore and I don’t have a baby, so that’s how that went.”
She came back in 2016, but had a hard time establishing any momentum. The decision to try Kentucky only made things worse.
“I felt that in Kentucky they were not giving me a fair shot,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure why, but I think that it is still an old boy’s club there.”
After sitting out the first few months of 2020, she began riding at Gulfstream in April and detected early on that things would be different. Soon, she was riding three, four horses a day, something she might not have done in Kentucky in a week’s time.
Part of Sutherland’s problem has always been that she didn’t seem that focused on her riding career. An aspiring model, she had a four-page spread in Vogue magazine and, in 2004, appeared in a TV commercial for Esquire watches.
She was chosen one of People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People. She was one of the jockeys featured on the reality TV show Jockeys on Animal Planet and appeared in five episodes of the HBO series Luck.
That’s all part of her past. She is not in a relationship and has no outside projects.
“Whoever supports me and makes me part of their team, I will give 150% so that I Win for my team. The hard work is paying off. This is my passion. I love horse racing. It is everything to me and it makes me happy.”
For Sutherland, it’s about to get a lot tougher as there’s an influx of top jockeys that come to Gulfstream for the winter Championship Meet. She looks forward to the challenge.
“I’ve ridden against the best in world already,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we all measure up. I’m looking forward to riding against terrific world-class riders.”
It’s good to have you back, and on the east coast Chantal. Safe trip.