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Five Minutes With Chantal Sutherland by Pin Oak Stud

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Pin Oak StudChantal Sutherland earned the biggest win of her career when she guided Game On Dude to victory in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), her first career Grade 1 triumph. Sutherland had to wait about 15 minutes to savor the victory, however, as stewards sorted through a physical stretch run that featured plenty of bumping between Game On Dude, favorite Twirling Candy, and runner-up Setsuko. One of the central riders in the Animal Planet reality television show “Jockeys,” Sutherland has found a home in Southern California. The 2001 and 2002 Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding apprentice spent five minutes with THOROUGHBRED TIMES TODAY editor Mike Curry:

It must have been some thrill hitting the wire first in the Big ‘Cap?
So exciting, I can’t even tell you; the most incredible feeling in the world.

Was that the longest 15 minutes of your life, waiting for the stewards decision?
After I talked to the stewards, I was like, ‘This is taking a long time’ and it was a little stressful, and then I was like ‘Oh my God, this is taking so long; this is killing me.’ And then it was so exciting when they ruled no change.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?
This one, the Big ’Cap.

What is the best decision you ever made in racing?
To never give up.

What was the worst decision you ever made in racing?
That’s a tough one. You make so many decisions in racing, but I guess a good answer is not keeping my mouth shut.

Do you have a favorite city?
Los Angeles, California. I just love the weather. It’s so beautiful here. The people here, I just love them. And I love how being at the racetrack everybody is so close. … I just love the jockeys here, everybody is so nice. These are my friends, these are my pals. They’re like family. It’s amazing.

Must be a nice working environment?
It’s so good. All those guys are my buddies. I get along with every single one of them. We all inspire each other, we work out together, and they’re just classy, good guys.

What is the last movie you watched?
The last one I watched was The Fighter. I liked it; great movie

What is your favorite movie?
I liked Secretariat and I liked Avatar. I thought it was kind of wild

What do you think is the best racing movie?
So far, Secretariat. I think “Luck,” the new TV show that is coming out, people are really going to like it because they are trying really hard to be very accurate. I think David Milch is just brilliant

What’s on your iPod?
Right now, my two favorite songs are Adele, from her new CD 21, it’s “He Won’t Go,” and I like the new song from Bon Iver, “Skinny Love.”

What is the last book you read?
I’m reading a book right now about the cosmos and the universe; I have this weird fascination with the universe and the galaxy

What is your favorite TV show?
It’s crazy, but I kind of like “Two and a Half Men”

Did you enjoy your experience on the show ‘Jockeys’?
Yes, I did. It kind of sped up my relationship with Mike [Smith] and myself. It was hard at times, but I was very proud of the show. I think all of us jockeys worked very hard to show a beautiful side of racing that exists.

Did you feel like that show was an accurate portrayal of life as a jockey?
I think everyone was pretty real. That’s how it is and that’s how we are.

What are your best attributes as a rider?
I think I have a strong mind, I think every race well. … I work out at the gym really hard and it’s helped me be a better finisher. And I’m quiet. I try to stay out of the horse’s way and go with the flow.

If you were not a jockey, what would you like to be doing?
I took mass communications in college, and I did psychology, but I liked the mass communications part and journalism. I don’t know if I would be a writer, but I would love to do TV and I love sports. I think I’m getting more comfortable with TV and I would love to do what [Racing Hall of Fame jockey and television analyst] Gary Stevens does and some of the guys on HRTV. I kind of like fashion, too.

When was your last vacation?
It was about a month and a half ago. I went to Barbados. It was nice, it was a little bit long. I don’t know if I would ever stay on holiday again for four weeks. I know now that I don’t like to be away from the horses for that long.

What was the best vacation you’ve had?
Probably, when I was a kid I went to Club Med with my family.

What is your favorite food?
It’s going to sound crazy, but I love brussel sprouts. The other thing I like, too, is Angie Stevens, Gary Stevens’ wife, makes white chocolate covered strawberries. Those things are amazing.

Any career advice for aspiring jockeys?
You have to be very serious about yourself and work hard; never give up when people tell you that you can’t do something. Your mind is a very strong thing and you’ve got to use it. Be like a sponge and absorb everything anybody tells you. Be open to learning, you have to be open to any kind of criticism and make lemonade out of lemons all the time.

What is the best advice someone gave you?
“When I was 13, I told a jockey that I wanted to be a jockey and he told me I can do whatever I want. And my mother always told me, ‘No matter what you do in life, go to your destiny. It’s whatever you want.’

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