Chantal Sutherland is no Zenyatta. For starters – and we’re stating the obvious – she’s human (not that we haven’t personified “The Queen”) and much, much smaller than the massive champion thoroughbred, not to mention the four-legged gal went for her 20th straight win at last year’s Breeders’ Cup, a failed feat that was watched – and mourned – by fans around the world.
Yes, Zenyatta’s storyline was epic, but Chantal’s is pretty spectacular, too. The Canadian-born athlete will ride Game On Dude in the Breeders’ Cup $5 million Classic Saturday – as the only female in a field of some of racing’s finest jockeys. (At least she’s the only human femme; look for Havre de Grace to showcase her equine athleticism in the Classic.)
Chantal grew up in Toronto, Ontario, where she rode in equestrian events so often as a young child she found herself burned out as a young teen. “I was so tired of horses,” she said.
After a reprieve that lasted several years, Chantal called up legendary jockey Angel Cordero Jr. – whom she didn’t know – “and asked if he would teach me,” she laughed. “I called information. Good thing he was so cool. He told me, ‘You’re too pretty to be a jockey. You just don’t have it.’ I asked what do you have to do to have it, and he said, ‘I would have to teach you.’ ”
Chantal credits Angel with teaching her the art of riding. “In the beginning, he’d say, ‘Oh little girl, you’re going to need some work,’ and then I just worked so hard. And then I just did it,” she said.
Industry insiders and fans know Chantal is a serious competitor in a male-dominated field. In fact, her struggles to break into horse racing were chronicled on the Animal Planet reality show, “Jockeys.” She’s also a champion of her profession who’s been compared to race car driver Danica Patrick, who attracted a slew of fans, both male and female, to her industry. “Danica is a great spokesperson. If you can get people to buy into your sport, I’m on it,” Chantal said. “To bring younger generations, it’s a cool thing because horse racing is a hurting sport.”
Like Danica, Chantal’s gorgeous physique has brought much attention, too. She’s been featured in Sports Illustrated, was chosen as one of People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People,” is contemplating whether she’ll accept an offer from Playboy to pose for “tasteful, non-nude” spread and just this week she accepted an invitation from Vanity Fair to pose in the magazine. Bo Derek will direct the shoot.
For this week, at least, she’s focused on Breeders’ Cup, particularly riding in the final race of the world championships atop Game On Dude. “It’s exciting. It’s everything I ever dreamed of. He’s a wonderful horse to be around. I know how my horse runs and I know what he likes. I have an idea of how it’s going to go on Saturday,” she said, giggling, “but I guess I can’t say more than that.”
photos courtesy of Caldwell sutherland designs
Category: The Profile
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.