An article in Horse-Canada.com's Thoroughblog, written by Jennifer Morrison, reports that jockey Chantal Sutherland was taken off mounts at Woodbine on Saturday and suspended five days after failing a pre-race breathalyzer test for alcohol. Officials at Woodbine would not confirm the report, saying all stewards rulings related to alcohol or drug testing are considered private matters.
Sutherland, reached by telephone Sunday morning in Canada, declined to comment on the matter.
Sutherland, who rode on Friday's Woodbine program, was named on several mounts Saturday, beginning with the first race at 1:05 p.m. aboard Bobby Joe for trainer Robert Tiller. Jockeys may be subjected to breath tests approximately one hour before riding their first mount, so Sutherland would have been tested at noon. One of the scheduled mounts she was taken off was Awesome Fire, owned by her brother Hugh Sutherland's Urban Fire Corp., in the $150,000 Carotene Stakes. Awesome Fire wound up sixth as the second betting choice under Gerry Olguin. Sutherland was also named to ride on four races at Woodbine Sunday and four on Monday.
Under Chapter 38 of the Ontario Racing Commission Rules of Racing, licensees in safety sensitive positions, ranging from assistant starters, jockeys, trainers, valets, and others, are subject to alcohol testing. Blood alcohol content above .02 but below .04 is considered over the limit and subject to a first offense fine of $100 and suspension for that day. A second offense in that blood-alcohol content range within 12 months is subject to a $300 fine and five-day suspension. Blood alcohol content tests from .04 to .079 are subject to a first offense fine of $300 and five-day suspension. Because of the confidentiality of the ruling, it is not known whether the reported suspension would have been a first offense for Sutherland.
For comparison sake, in many states it is considered illegal to operate a motor vehicle when blood alcohol content exceeds .08.
Earlier this year, jockey Kent Desormeaux failed a breathalyzer test at Belmont Park. He subsequently entered an outpatient treatment program. In 2010, Desormeaux reportedly failed a similar test at Woodbine.
Sutherland also models and was featured in Southern California marketing programs earlier this year for Santa Anita Park and Del Mar, making her one of the highest profile riders in the sport. She has won 33 races from 305 mounts this year, for earnings of $2,147,722. Until recently being replaced by Rafael Bejarano, she was the regular rider for multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude, the likely favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
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