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updated: 10/21/2012 8:35 PM

Jockey Sutherland calls it a career at 36

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  • Jockey Chantal Sutherland announced her retirement on her website, saying she wants to focus on her new husband and slow down and enjoy her life.

      Jockey Chantal Sutherland announced her retirement on her website, saying she wants to focus on her new husband and slow down and enjoy her life.
    Associated Press file photo

 
Associated Press

Chantal Sutherland went home to Canada to ride the final race of her career Sunday, and then announced her retirement as a jockey at 36.

She went 0 for 2 at Woodbine in Toronto, finishing seventh aboard Crushin Hard in the eighth race, the last mount of her 13-year career on a horse owned by her father, Paul.

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Sutherland announced her retirement in a lengthy statement on her website, saying she wants to focus on her new husband and slow down and enjoy her life.

"I'm not sad, but rather looking at another opportunity to begin a new chapter in my life," she said. "Looking ahead, I'm excited about new challenges and new opportunities that life has in store for me."

She won 931 races from 7,350 career mounts and had purse earnings of more than $47 million, according to Equibase.

Sutherland is best known for riding Game On Dude, a horse that helped her record several firsts for a female jockey.

She was the first female rider to win the Santa Anita Handicap, guiding Game On Dude to a nose victory last year. They teamed to win the Hollywood Gold Cup in July, another female first for Sutherland, and the Californian, among other races.

In March, Sutherland was the first woman to ride in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, where Game On Dude finished 12th for co-owner Joe Torre, the retired Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees manager.

Last year, she and front-running Game On Dude finished an agonizing second in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, losing to 14-1 shot Drosselmeyer, who was ridden by Sutherland's former fiance Mike Smith. They were together on and off for six years, with their relationship documented on the TV reality show "Jockeys," before breaking up in 2010.

Sutherland's high-profile ride on Game On Dude came to an end after he finished second in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. She dropped her left rein late in the race after taking the lead. Trainer Bob Baffert later replaced her as the horse's regular rider with Rafael Bejarano, and her business had slowed recently after five successful years on the Southern California circuit.

"Racing is so much hard work and takes so much mental toughness; I can honestly say that I've had enough," Sutherland said on her website.

Game On Dude is expected to be one of the favorites for the BC Classic at Santa Anita next month.

Her highest earning year was 2010, when her purse winnings topped $8 million and she led the jockeys' standings at Woodbine with 18 stakes victories.

Her success combined with her good looks landed Sutherland opportunities off the track, leading to some grumbling in the industry that she was more interested in seeking publicity.

Sutherland graced billboards advertising Santa Anita and Del Mar, did some modeling, and she appeared in TV shows including "Luck." In 2006, she was named one of People magazine's 100 most beautiful people. In June, she appeared nude aboard a horse in a Vanity Fair photo taken by Bo Derek.

"I can't even describe how flattering that is," Sutherland said on her website.

Sutherland married Dan Kruse earlier this year, describing him as "the man of my dreams."

"I've never really had weekends or holidays off, I've always spent so much time racing or focused and preparing for racing," she said on her website. "Racing takes so much determination, guts, and sacrifice to be on top. I once craved, lived, and breathed racing. I can honestly say now, I'm ready to slow down and enjoy my life. Maybe I'll cut loose and have a cheeseburger or some pizza. Those types of indulgences are not allowed when you constantly have to monitor your weight."

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sutherland began riding at 5 and later showed horses and competed in dressage and jumping competitions. She began her career as a jockey in 2000, riding her first winner Silver Bounty that October at Woodbine. She was Canada's leading apprentice jockey in 2001 and 2002.

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