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Southern Gaming & Destinations Article

Chantal was featured on the Southern Gaming & Destinations 2012 magazine. Here is a copy of the article. You can also view a web-copy of it here.

Chantal Sutherland

What once was a mainstay for Hollywood celebrities and gamblers alike looking to cash in on a few pari-mutuel tickets, today the racetracks of America have become something much different. Live horseracing, known to many as “The Sport of Kings,” has certainly seen better days. The sport is being challenged by competition from more entertainment options and gambling outlets (including casinos and poker rooms in 38 states), lotteries, online gambling, as well as online wagering platforms-allowing horseplayers to wager from anywhere. In the late 1950’s, horseracing was the number two sport in America, falling jut behind baseball. Now, the racetracks seem more desolate than ever except on major racing days. Many tracks are left to rely heavily on revenue from adjoining casinos, referred to as “racinos,” to supplement purses. And tracks without that revenue source are feeling the effects from nearby casinos, many in neighboring states.

Without a doubt, horseracing needs a jolt of adrenaline to bring the level of interest back to what it once was. Winning a quick hand of blackjack or a roll of the dice doesn’t hold a candle to the thrill one gets from successfully handicapping a field of thoroughbreds, especially when your picks cross the finish line first and you take your ticket to the window to claim your winnings. Even if you don’t win, you have two thrilling minutes to images your investment crossing the line in first place. However, unless you are basin your wages on names, numbers or colors, horseracing requires analysis of multiple variables, from past performances and bloodlines to track conditions and distance of the race.

Chantal Sutherland

It seems over the pas decade, one friend of horseracing has been media companies and their production of mainstream movies and mini-series.

In addition to the big screen, television has also played a big role in telling the story of the thoroughbred industry. Animal Planet launched a reality show called “Jockeys” that followed several top jocks both on and off the track, showing behind the scenes look at what really happens in the locker rooms. One of the featured female jockeys on the show was Chantal Sutherland. Sutherland not only rides, but also has branched out into other endeavors, including modeling, appearance at casinos and a jewelry line. A Canadian by birth, Sutherland began riding when she was 23 years old. She saw greener pastries in the United States and made a run for the California racing circuit.

“In hight school, I worked on a farm galloping thoroughbreds and always wanted to be a professional athlete. I wanted to play field hockey for Canada, but was cut from the World Cup team because I was just not good enough and too small,” commented Sutherland. “Then one summer, I decided I wanted to be a jockey and pursued it and fell in love with the industry.”

Once she started riding professionally, Chantal was enthralled with the travel and the people she met along the way.

In the show, one of the main shorelines was Sutherland, and then boyfriend and jockey, Mike Smith, and their relationship on and off the track. In the series, they broke up causing tension between the two.

Then, in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic race at Churchill Downs, the story continued when Sutherland was riding 12-1 Game on Dude and leading the race coming down the stretch. Unfortunately for Chantal, the 14-1 Drosselmeyer, ridden by non other than her ex, Mike Smith, came out of nowhere to pass her and win the $5 million race in an exciting finish.

“It was probably the biggest moment of my career,” commented Sutherland about the race. “I was so proud about how he [Game on Dude] rand that day. I know he got beat, but he tried so hard. However, my biggest goal is to be in the Kentucky Derby one day, so I am holding out for that!”

… Her latest project is an upcoming HBO Series, “Luck”, premiering January 29, 2012. The network has a winning track record of greet short series with shows like “Sopranos”. Forecasts show “Luck” will live up to HBO’s high expectations. It features top actors, including Dustin Hoffman (an owner who gets jailed for some mix-ups he encounters at the track) and Nick Nolte (an old washed-up trainer who spots a diamond in the rough with a promising horse).

Hopefully shows such as these will help horseracing fans and novices alike understand the ins and outs of the sport…

When it comes to popularity of horseracing and keeping the public aware of the sport, Sutherland feels the perception and education of the public need to change. “Marketing has to continue to be strong and embrace social media and good concepts to attract the younger market. The Breeders’ Cup did a really good job with that and I think it should be done more throughout the year. We also need to have better coverage and camera angles for watching the races. People need to be able to see what it’s like to be a jockey on the horse, like NASCAR does with the drivers giving fans the perspective from inside the car. If they could do that, I think it would help the market a lot.”

To read the full article visit http://issuu.com/southern_gaming/docs/january2012/16

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