Rich Strike’s jockey Sonny Leon receives suspension for careless riding

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Sonny Leon, the jockey who led Rich Strike to an unlikely Kentucky Derby win as an 80-1 long shot, has been suspended for careless riding.

Leon’s suspension will last just four days and can have him riding again as soon as this Friday (he began serving the suspension on Monday). The decision to sideline Leon stems from a late April race at an Ohio track when it was determined that the horse he was riding, One Glamorous Gal, intentionally interfered with another horse during the race.

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Rich Strike (21), with Sonny Leon aboard, is led to the winner's circle after winning the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.

Rich Strike (21), with Sonny Leon aboard, is led to the winner’s circle after winning the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Stewards at Ohio’s Thistledown Race Track described Leon’s late April actions as such: “deliberately and aggressively steered in towards the rail to block on-coming horses on the inside.” One Glamorous Gal finished third, but the place was disqualified because of the violation and the horse officially finished sixth.

Leon’s suspension is his fifth since September. The five suspensions have resulted in 32 days of missed track time.

Jockey Sonny Leon rides Rich Strike in the winner's circle after winning the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.

Jockey Sonny Leon rides Rich Strike in the winner’s circle after winning the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.
(AP Photo/Jeff Robertson)

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Per the Associated Press, Leon’s suspension – originally eight days but reduced to four because he did not appeal – would not prevent him from riding Rich Strike at the Preakness later this month.

Rick Dawson, the horse’s owner, along with trainer Eric Reed, have not yet determined if they’ll enter Rich Strike. If so, Leon will be ready to ride. “Our job is to go where we need to be, but we don’t make those decisions,” Jeff Perrin, Leon’s agent told the AP.

Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates in the winner's circle after Rich Strike won the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.

Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates in the winner’s circle after Rich Strike won the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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The Preakness runs May 21st with the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, running June 11th.

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