A four-day suspension incurred by Chantal Sutherland while riding in the Shergar Cup international jockey event on Saturday at Ascot, England, to be served August 25-28, may jeopardize her participation in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic as the regular jockey for Game on Dude.
Sutherland was among several high-profile jockeys who were penalized by Ascot stewards for infractions of that country's rules regarding the use of whips. Other riders given four-day suspensions were Cristian Demuro of Italy and Yutaka Take of Japan.
Kieran Fallon, the captain of the Great Britain & Ireland squad in the Shergar Cup competition, defended Sutherland to The National newspaper in England.
"It's sad, really," Fallon was quoted as saying. "All Chantal was doing was giving a couple of little taps. Riders tap the horses to encourage them. It is not as if they are hurting the horses. It should have been overlooked for today. They are foreign riders who are not used to our (rules).
"From their own country, where they can hit a horse as many times as they want, they have suffered for it."
In the case of suspensions levied by U.S. authorities, riders have an option of appealing and postponing the suspension period. There is also a "designated race" rule which permits suspended riders to participate in certain major events. The Pacific Classic, the Grade 1 signature race of the Del Mar meeting set for August 26, is such a race.
In question Sunday, however, was whether such options were available to Sutherland in the jurisdiction of England where the infractions occurred.
"I don't know the details but she will ride the Classic, don't worry about that," said Tommy Ball, Sutherland's agent.
Del Mar stewards, however, confirmed that they apply the rules as they are in effect in England. And while several parties were looking into the matter, senior Del Mar steward Tom Ward said "there is that possibility" that Sutherland's riding in the Classic could be in jeopardy.
Ward recalled an instance several years ago when U.S. officials upheld a suspension Corey Nakatani incurred while riding in Asia in similar, but not identical, circumstances.
Sutherland won the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap and 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup, both Grade 1s, on Game on Dude for trainer Bob Baffert.