ByJohn L. Seitz
Whentrainer Bob Baffert lifts Chantal Sutherland aboard Game On Dude atKentucky’s Churchill Downs Saturday for the running of the Breeders’ CupClassic, she will be carrying the torch for women athletes everywhere as sheseeks to become the first female rider to win that prestigious $5 millionrace in its 27-year history.
GameOn Dude carries the silks of the late Terry Lanni and his widow, Debbie,longtime Orlando Road residents, plus their partners: former Dodgers/Yankees’manager Joe Torre, Ernest Moody and Bernie Schiappa.
ForSutherland, the race gives her another chance to perform on one of racing’sgrand stages and to duplicate her feat of last March when the same horsebrought her victory in the historic Santa Anita Handicap as the first-everfemale winner in its 73 runnings.
“I’mliving a dream and having the time of my life,” said the Winnipeg-born,Toronto-raised Canadian, who has often been referred to as the “Danica Patrickof horse racing” and been featured in a multi-page fashion spread in Vogue andnamed among People magazine’s “100 most beautiful personalities,”
Andwhy not? Besides her “day job” which finds her riding three to fivemounts on the Santa Anita program, she has her own jewelry line specificallydesigned for her by almost-namesake but non-related pal Caldwell Sutherland ofBel-Air. (The two had a showing last weekend in the Champions’ gift shop atSanta Anita.)
Inaddition, she is an aspiring actress and has a continuing role in the upcomingHBO series Luck starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte.
Whatis an average Sutherland day? It begins with her arising at 5 o’clock eachmorning usually in Bradbury, running five miles (that takes about 45 minutes),going to the track to work out several horses, having breakfast and thenhitting the gym for another workout—all before she’s ready to go in theafternoon.
Shefirst began riding at age 5 from ponies and then hunter-jumpers and dressage.In high school she took up field hockey, downhill skiing and ice hockey but herinterest in riding resurfaced while at York University when she beganexercising thoroughbreds.
AfterSutherland expressed a desire to become a jockey, her friends scoffed at theidea
“Ifyou have the will, good hands and natural athleticism, it’s just a matter ofrefining your technique,” she says. She eventually ended up becoming one of Canada’s leading jockeys and won two of that country’s prestigiousSovereign Awards.
Sutherlandhas now moved her tack full time to the California circuit (Santa Anita, DelMar and Hollywood Park). While it represents a decided step-up in competition,it also keeps her keeps her close to her Hollywood film and modelingopportunities.
“I’mhighly competitive and have played sports all my life,” she exclaims. “The importantthing is to enjoy every day and stay healthy.”
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