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Racey Lady

When you add glamour, beauty, a role in a hit series on HBO, talent and athletic ability, there’s plenty of extra sizzle and it’s every marketer’s fantasy. Right now their dream girl is Chantal Sutherland.

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Playboy, that paragon of men’s magazines, has picked up the bit and is featuring the rider. No, Sutherland isn’t the centerfold as Miss February, the Playmate of the Month, but the reason isn’t because the editors didn’t ask.

After keeping her clothes on and at the same time turning them off, they still chose her to kick off their new feature series “Femme on Fire: Women to Watch For” on Playboy.com.

As the inaugural subject, Sutherland sat down for a Q&A session to talk about her concurrent careers as a model, actress and jockey and then she posed for photos taken by someone who knows a few things about being the “It Girl” and stardom, as well as her way around the racetrack.

Bo Derek was on the other side of the camera this time.

The result is stunning. Sutherland, holding a pink whip in her perfect teeth, is dressed in pink polka dot silks that are unzipped just enough to reveal her white lace bra underneath.

The jockey, who has already been photographed by none other than Annie Liebovitz for Vogue and appeared in People as “One of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World”, said that she only agreed to do a revealing shoot with Derek, who was the dream girl of her day and considered the embodiment of the perfect “10”.

Sutherland insisted that the photos be in her words “classy, tasteful and artistic”. And we have a winner. While some, including Julie Krone, Patti Barton, and Patty Cooksey among others, may rightfully take exception to Sutherland being introduced in the piece as “the queen of the jockeys,” no one can argue that she is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in the photo posted on the very popular website.

That can only be good for racing, which needs an influx of new people betting fresh dollars not only at Santa Anita, where Sutherland is currently riding, but at tracks across the continent, including her native Canada.
Continue to watch the total handle drop each quarter and you don’t have to be the second coming of PR maven Swifty Lazar to figure out that the old ways of selling the sport just aren’t working well enough. And they haven’t for a long time.

As someone who’s sat in a hell of a lot of marketing meetings at tracks in both a major market and on a smaller circuit and has attended an awful lot of national marketing seminars and symposiums, I can attest that a variety of different approaches have already been tried to jazz up attendance and handle (anyone remember the Lori Petty and ‘Go Baby, Go!’ campaign?).

The industry has already tried to define and sell itself in a multitude of ways: Do we key on and promote the sport? The gambling? Family entertainment? A day at the park? Beer, food and fun? Beautiful horses? All of the above? None of the above?

Sex sells everything else, so why not our sport? Just maybe if people fall in love with Chantal Sutherland on Playboy.com, they’ll also fall in love with racing.

As my grandmother used to say, “It couldn’t hurt

Written by Lynne Snierson

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