Sonny Leon, Kentucky Derby-winning rider and jockey to iconic racehorse Rich Strike, was suspended for four days by Ohio Stewards for problematic behavior in an April race.
Upon examination, on April 27th at the Thistledown Racecourse, Leon was seen carelessly riding One Glamorous Gal. According to Associated Press, the jockey “deliberately and aggressively” steered the horse to block other riders, consequently interfering with the race.
Undoubtedly, Leon’s frequent suspensions are questionable. The Courier-Journal reported that the Venezuelan jockey received a 15-day suspension for allegedly providing false documents from a physical examination to West Virginia stewards. In addition, he was critiqued for inflicting injury on a horse when he misused his whip.
Despite this being his fifth offense in the last nine months, Leon’s agent Jeff Perrin is confident that his behavior will not prevent him from continuing to ride with Rich Strike.
Sonny Leon’s agent discusses the jockey’s future with racehorse Rich Strike
“Our job is to go where we need to be, but we don’t make those decisions,” Perrin shared. “But that horse will be sticking with him for sure. You can never forget the things you did that got you to ride in the Kentucky Derby and the people that helped get you there.”
Yet, Rich Strike’s owner had a slightly different perspective on what needs their horse has. ESPN went on to confirm that the horse will not be participating in any upcoming races in order to focus on recovery.
“Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the KY Derby … subject to the race outcome & the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time & rest and run in the Belmont [Stakes], or another race and stay on course to run with 5 or 6 weeks rest between races,” the owners told the media outlet.
Perrin went on to allude that aggressive riding is a necessary aspect of professional horse racing. Not wanting to go into specific details, the agent stated, “You do have to be aggressive to win. I think there are judgment calls that people make, and I don’t want to comment on it too much for political reasons. But you have to be aggressive.”
Although he was suspended in Ohio, the jockey is still anticipating participating at Belterra Park in Cincinnati, and Churchill Downs in Louisville due to his Kentucky Derby win.
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