Last week was a big one for jockey Chantal Sutherland. She won her first top-tier race in a controversial ride on Game On Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap. Hours upon hours of debate were spent discussing whether her skill was the reason for the win or whether she caused a near tragic accident with an ill-timed left-handed use of the whip. Days later, she launched her website, a combination of news about the jockey’s career and her aim to become a well-known actress and model buttressed by her appearances on Jockeys and the upcoming HBO original series Luck.
It is clear from her website that she recognizes her assets do not just include a strong winning percentage at Woodbine. If the image under her “fitness” section is any indication, Chantal understands she has something that Garrett Gomez, John Velazquez and other top jockeys will never have: the ability to draw men to the sport for reasons beyond gambling.
And our sport would be foolish not to promote her for this. If marketed correctly, Chantal Sutherland could be to horse racing what Danica Patrick is to IndyCar Racing. Relevancy is what racing needs more than anything else to give it a strong foundation for the future. We need our own one-name star. We could do far worse than Chantal.