Jockey Journals — Chantal Sutherland Kruse

She’s been gone from racing for seven months but Chantal Sutherland Kruse is back. She makes her return to riding at Woodbine this weekend and explains in this Jockey Journal (taken from a phone interview with why she abruptly retired last year and why she decided to come back.

Read Original Article from Danonymous Racing

When I took time off, I had been going at it for so long. In Canada, most jockeys take the Winter off but in the states there are no real breaks for jockeys. That was tough and the demands of the diet were also getting to me. I had also met someone outside of racing who made me realize how demanding horse racing is. I just wanted a little bit of a break to spend time with my husband (Dan Kruse).

When I was away, I took two courses that were self-reflective and that help you learn about yourself and how to become a powerful person in the universe. So, I really reflected on some of the decisions I made, where I wanted to be in my life and what I wanted to do with my life. And, I realized that I’m not ready yet to leave racing.

Game On Dude (and losing the mount on him) did hurt. It kind of stung. I’d been fired and hired my whole career and I think I’ve been pretty good at dealing with all of it – but that one hurt. I held that pain with me and until I took those courses and realized that I’m more grateful for Game On Dude. Whatever choices were made were just choices and had nothing to do with me as a jockey. I’m so happy now that I had that opportunity and I’m looking forward to another opportunity like it. I just realized there were so many other great horses out there that I’ve ridden and that horse racing, for me, wasn’t just about Game On Dude. It was a beautiful moment and we’ll leave it at that. So, I’ve been able to let go of that pain.

Coming Back with a New Attitude

I love horse racing and it’s a big part of who I am. I really just miss it. I miss the horses and I miss the people. I miss walking around and seeing all of my friends. For so long, I’d ask myself, “what is racing doing for me?” and “what is it contributing to my life?” But, really, I needed to ask myself, “what can I do for racing?” and “what can I contribute to horse racing?” I think I have a lot more to offer. I want to do good things for racing.

I decided about three months ago that I wanted to come back but I had to plan on how I wanted to do it. I talked to Tommy Ball, my agent, about it. So, he knew. But, as a jockey, you have to be calculated in everything you do. In planning the comeback, I also had to make sure my husband was on board and supportive. I have a partner now and I had to make sure everything was cool at home so that I can be more focused when I ride.

Getting Back to Riding Shape

As a rider, you’re on top of your weight every day and always reducing and always on horses – that just becomes your life and you’re used to it. When I stopped racing, my body was physically tired, so I stopped doing all of that for a couple of weeks. I didn’t even run. I just really relaxed. But after that, I started going to the gym and started a routine like a regular person. I would still eat pretty healthy and didn’t have to worry if I ate a steak at night.

During her time off, Chantal joined the TVG team for coverage of Big Cap Day in March.

Now, I’m working out twice a day. I’m also on a strict diet right because I’m going to be riding on Friday at Woodbine and in the Queen’s Plate Trial on Sunday. So, I’ll have to be able to pack 123 lbs, which won’t be a problem but some of the other weights are going to be tough though.

A Difficult Diet

Everybody’s body is different but my body, when I’m racing, I really have to cut back on proteins. I usually stick to veggies and will do protein shakes, as opposed to animal proteins. My breakfast today at 5 am was a scoop of protein with a quarter cup of oatmeal. Then, at 9 am, I had a scoop of protein with an apple and a tiny bit of water. Everything I eat has to be weighed and, throughout the day, I have to drink a gallon of water. So, it’s definitely different than being just normal. It’s demanding but the outcome and racing is worth it to me.

Back At The Track

I didn’t actually start getting back on horses until a week ago. I’ve been at Hollywood Park and as soon as I walked in the door, there were people saying, “hey Chantal, you want to get on a horse?” I was surprised. I’ve been able to get on a lot of horses and it has been great. So, I just got busy at Hollywood and haven’t even been to Santa Anita. This weekend, I’ll be going to Canada (to ride at Woodbine). Then, next week, I’ll probably spend some time at Santa Anita but Hollywood seems to be pretty busy for me right now. So, I might just go with the flow and come back to Hollywood.

Finding Inspiration and a Message to the Fans

It makes me feel good to see Gary Stevens come back and do well. While it didn’t impact my decision to come back, it’s been nice to see because I like Gary and I’m so happy he’s doing well. I’m honestly happy for him as a person because it’s so tough to do what he did. What he had to do after seven years to get in shape after seven years away, that’s inspiring to anyone – it really is a beautiful story. Hopefully, if I can do anything similar that would be fantastic. If not, it would still be OK. I’m happy with just being able to come back to horse racing, having fun and just enjoying myself.

I love all of my fans. I want to thank them for all of the support and I hope I can make them proud.


  1. Bill Dickson says:

    I had a chance to see the Breeders Cup for the first time in my life last year. Santa Anita is such a wonderful place. Of course I was hoping to see you ride and was saddened when you were not riding Game On Dude and later to hear that you had retired from racing. I was surprised to hear about your return to riding at Woodbine- best wishes. I look forward to hearing about your successes AND perhaps seeing you ride in the Breeders Cup.

  2. harold says:

    thanks for coming back,there will be another game on dude in your life,things happen to all us in life but rest assured none of have a cross to bear if we could not handle it.

  3. Al powell says:

    Welcome back Chantal you are the best good luck

  4. Todd says:

    Chantal you are my dad’s favorite… he’s smiling again:)
    Welcome back!
    Stay strong!
    Go get ’em!!!!

  5. Do not worry, you have the ability,and that is all you need to succeed.
    May God bless you and keep you safe.

  6. ken says:

    Way to go Chantal! I’m so happy for you about all the positive changes in your life and especially happy to hear you’re engaging the evolutionary journey of the soul. It’s so awesome to see you racing again. Best of luck to you and your husband!

  7. Mark says:

    Glad you are back. When you rode at belmont you were nice enough to sign a photo I took of you.You always had time for a “hello”and a smile
    I wish you all the best.
    – mark

  8. bart says:


    Glad your back and wishing you well everytime you’re out there. As always, I hope trainers treat you fairly and they see how much you bring to racing on and off the track as horse racing tries to gain its niche again in the sporting world. I know you’re working hard and enjoy the journey maybe moreso than even the first time around.

  9. Loren Ritchie says:

    I’ve followed you for ever. The thing that I always “wished” (under my breath) is
    that you would have riden Zenyatta and not Smith. Where he is a decent jockey, he
    got to point of being jealous of your success.
    As far as Game on Dude, a great horse with or without you. You are better off without the Baffert group and the crap they spread around. You have a “million” fans and I for one miss your
    pretty face. Hope you come back and kick butts.


  10. Larry E. says:

    Welcome back Chantal! Best of luck to you and of course Dan.

  11. EdieRose says:

    Hi Chantal…I was at Hollywood Park yesterday July 6th…and I looked at the program and saw your name. there…I am very Happy to see you back again…and even though Hollywood Park is closing for the meet July 14../..I look forward to seeing you ride at Santa Anita. God Bless and Be well:)

  12. Paulymac33 says:

    Proud of you Chantal, it made my day to see your name in entries for the 1st Race at Opening Day Del Mar. Good Luck and Welcome Back!

  13. kevin lynch says:

    NEW YORK MISSED YA WELCOME BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GO WIN!!!!!!

  14. vic says:

    I have to admit that you are all heart, you have passion for horses and that’s awesome, and you are as good any jockey out there, you gutsy, and a great hand on a horse I’ts a man’s world but you have prove them wrong, and that make’s you a special person, welcome back and best wishes on you venture of this wonderful sport where only the strong survive. vaya con dios preciosa.

  15. zane babston says:

    i wish chantal all the love in the world! she will be a definate asset for horse racing and will inspire older atheletes everywhere. if you eaer come to ALABAMA give me a shout. TRULY ZANE

  16. snny says:

    happy to see you are coming back. I wish nothing but the best and good racing luck.

  17. Jerry says:

    Chantal: Your ride on Game on Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap (2011) was one for the ages. How you survived the foul by Twirling Candy only to be headed by Setsuko and still win the race, I will never know. Tremendous recovery from a disastrous situation. Ride on, ride on.

  18. glyman says:

    Thrilled to see Chantal back.
    Will see her today in Del Mar

  19. dave says:

    U are the best thing horse racing has going.
    I hope this time round you get the respect
    from horse owners you deserve.

    Hoppefully Bobby B. will get you another top horse.

  20. heypaulie says:

    Best of luck. Love your pics by Bo Derek.
    Can’t wait till u stick it to turds like Bejarano.
    You have something so many male jockeys lack.

  21. gingersnaps says:

    So glad you’re back! Stick it to the boys.

  22. kavish says:

    Thanks for your story. Woodbine misses you.

  23. Ruben Guzmac says:

    truly inspiring to see chantal back. we, racing fans, haven’t seen a real fearless, spine-tingling come-from-behind closing kick in a very long time.NOBODY DOES IT BETTER

  24. Louis Komaromi says:


    Chantal is baaaaack. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. You have the ability, mentally, and physically, to compete with any jockey on this planet. Maximize your potential as a jockey, and your career in the entertainment field. If the owners of Game On Dude are smart, they should put you back on him. Time for you to start those triple crown, and breeder cup wins.
    May you have a happy, healthy, prosperous life.

    Louis Komaromi
    UAW, General Motors retiree
    Azle, Texas

  25. Curtis Oda says:

    Welcome back CHANTAL and congrats on your first win back at Del Mar on JAYA ROO in the 3rd race on August 2!! Believe in yourself and always stay positive because your dreams will come true!! I can see positive and big things happening for you on the racetrack and just be patient!! Continued success for you and your husband!!!

  26. Margie says:

    I am a huge fan of yours. I follow your races every day. I have a colt ready to race as I am writing this comment. My dream would be for you to ride my colt one day. My favorite quote is “Shoot for the moon and, even if you miss, you will land among the stars”. I hope you reach your highest goal. Have fun and be safe.

  27. William Duden says:

    I’m happy too see Baffert had the heart to give you another mount!!!! He will also put you on some better stock because he is no dummie!! He knows your a good rider and you work hard and that you are a good person. When I was training 90% of the time I rode female jockeys. Sherry Mickle, Jeanie Maxwell and some others . Thats been a few years ago like 30-40years ago. Sherry Mickle was my favorite,plus she was cute!!!!! I agree with what Louis said about you and everyone else!!!! Chantal I wish you the very best. Maybe someday you could ride a horse for me. That would be wonderful!!!!!!!! I pray that GOD give you and your husband health and happyness for the rest of your lives

  28. mary ann c golden says:

    Happy you married some one really nice.Mike Smith I thought was not good enough for you.Love horses too.

  29. Chantal
    I have watched “Jockeys” several times and have seen you recently on TVG
    You are an inspiration to the many young fans, especially young ladies, and add some much neede class to the sport.
    We wish you would come to Saratoga next Summer.
    Breeders Cup?

  30. cheryl says:

    Hello chantel

    I am thrilled you are back I am sorry about the breeders cup but I know you will be there when it is your time .thank you for coming back I look forward to see what happens .

  31. Judy says:

    I remember when you were first at Woodbine and you would not ride our horse because the trainer didnt have a big time name. You are not all that you make yourself out to be and karma is a biatch. You have a lot of growing up to do yet, And you are not “all that” in a lot of peoples books.

  32. bob gomez says:

    What happened to wanting to start a family?

  33. Randy Socia says:

    I loved your win in Del Mar. I’m back at the track , here in San Diego. Was going to Hazel Park in Detroit, long time ago. I heard stories about you and Mike around the track. Yeah, well that made me your fan. Sorry about Game On Dude. But Chantal, You must have felt SOOO GOOD when you beat Mike in Santa Anita, going off at 55 to 1. I know how great I felt standing there holding my $10 to win ticket. You GO Girl. You’re like that guy that go’s into a bar and beats the pool sharks just using a house stick. Chantal, you are more than a jockey. You made Game On Dude what he is today. .. Ride On baby.. Ride On

  34. elbee says:

    I am an old retired man and remember when you started your career and will always remember some of your mounts on Mortgage Man in the rain and paid $100.00 to win. I am happy for your knew life and it was a pleasure to watch you ride in Canada and the USA.A family is HAPPINESS and I wish that on you as I now have Grandchildren.

  35. Curtis Oda says:

    Your comeback has been amazing!! Despite having one or two mounts a day, you go out and show everyone that you can still ride…For example, yesterday (Nov. 16), you guided Tebowing at BHP in the 6th race for Julio Canani in a well timed ride at 11-1!! Keep up the great work Chantal because soon, you will be get that Kentucky Derby AND Breeders Cup Classic horse!!!

  36. wayne bonds says:

    best of luck i hope you get that special horse you rock best of luck stay strong and be safe

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