America’s leading female jockey Chantal Sutherland has announced her retirement at the age of 36.
Sutherland went home to Canada to ride in the final races of her career on Sunday and then announced her retirement in a lengthy statement on her website.
There was no fairytale ending with Sutherland finishing seventh in the eighth race at Woodbine aboard Crushin Hard, a horse owned by her father Paul.
Sutherland said she now wanted 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,” Sutherland said.
“Looking ahead, I’m excited about new challenges and new opportunities that life has in store for me.”
Sutherland won 931 races from 7350 career mounts for prize money of more than $47 million.
She 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.
In March, Sutherland was the first woman to ride in the $10 million Dubai World Cup where Game On Dude finished 12th.
Last year, she and the front-running Game On Dude finished an agonising second in the 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 their break-up in 2010.
Sutherland’s association with Game On Dude came to an end after he finished second in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. She dropped her left rein late in the race after taking the lead and trainer Bob Baffert replaced her with Rafael Bejarano.
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 modelling, and 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.
Sutherland married Dan Kruse earlier this year, describing him as “the man of my dreams”.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sutherland began riding at five and later 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.