Just days after Rich Strike won the 2022 Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 longshot, the horse’s jockey, Sonny Leon, has landed in some hot water. Leon has been suspended from competing for four days as a result of careless riding, according to regulatory rulings from the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
It marked the fifth careless riding suspension for Leon since September. In addition, Leon was also sanctioned for submitting altered and false documents for a physical examination to West Virginia stewards while also inflicting injuries due to the misuse of his whip.
“You do have to be aggressive to win,” Leon’s jockey agent Jeff Perrin said following Rich Strike’s triumphant 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.”
The 32-year old’s initial suspension was set at eight days, but got reduced to four days due to the fact that he didn’t appeal the ban. Since September, Leon has racked up 32 total days of suspensions.
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This particular suspension was handed down by stewards at Ohio’s Thustledown after Leon’s filly was involved in an incident on April 27. Glamorous Gal, the horse that Leon was riding in that race, interfered with Ultra Rays in a $28,000 allowance race.
Both Leon and Ultra Rays jockey Alexander Chavez were suspended and had their mounts disqualified. Ultra Rays ended up finishing in second while Glamorous Gal finished third.
Leon will be serving the four-day suspension this week, which means that he can return to competition beginning on Friday. He has won 71 of his 399 starts in 2022, but the Kentucky Derby was the first graded stakes win of his career.