Last October at Woodbine in Canada,
Chantal Sutherland was on the verge of making the announcement that she
was about to ride her last race when fellow jockey Alex Solis offered a
word of caution.
“I was for sure I wasn’t coming back, “
Sutherland said recently by phone from her home in Huntington Beach.
“But Alex said, ‘You’re just tired right now. It happens to all of us.
Don’t make it a retirement announcement, just say you’re taking a
Sutherland contemplated following Solis’
advice. Then, “Lo and behold, my brother tweeted that I was retiring.”
So there was no change in the announcement but, a short time later, a
change in Sutherland’s thinking.
And Sutherland, unretired at age 37, will
be the “Face of Del Mar” again this season as she was last year, her
second full season at the seaside track. “I took some time off at the
end of October. I was kind of tired and I felt like I needed a break,”
Sutherland said. “I hadn’t really taken a break since I started racing.
“Then, when I finished redecorating and
renovating the house that my husband (Dan Kruse) and I bought, I kind
of started thinking about racing again. There are other things that I
could do, but there’s really nothing that I love as much as horse
racing. It has been a huge part of my life and I really missed my
routine and competing. So I decided to come back..”
Another summer at Del Mar was a motivating factor.
“I actually called Craig Dado (DMTC
Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer) myself and got the
ball rolling for my return to Del Mar,” Sutherland said. “Not only do I
love Del Mar because of the track, but because I live so close
(Huntington Beach) that it’s easy to get there and work as hard as I
know I’m going to have to work to make this comeback successful like I
hope it is going to be.”
In 2011, her first full season at Del Mar,
Sutherland had 12 wins, 9 seconds and 11 thirds from 106 mounts,
placing ninth in the rider standings. In 2012 her numbers were 62
7-6-8, among them a victory aboard Miss California in the opening race
of the meeting. Her lone Del Mar stakes victory came aboard Great Hot in
the 2011 Torrey Pines. In the Pacific Classic, she was fourth on Game
On Dude in 2011 and second on the same horse in 2012. “Opening day is
always so cool to be a part of and to people watch. The Pacific Classic,
which I’ve had the privilege of riding in a couple of times, is great,”
Sutherland said. “Every day at Del Mar is fantastic. I love the
smells, working out on the beach, running the stairs. It’s just a
healthy environment. I love it.”
Sutherland rode a few races at Woodbine,
where she was among the leading riders from 2008-2010, in June to start
her comeback and picked up a few mounts in the closing weeks of the
Betfair Hollywood Park meeting in preparation for an intended Del Mar