08/05/2011 11:36AM

Battle of the Exes: Smith vs. Sutherland


On Sunday, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will face Chantal Sutherland in a match race at Del Mar being promoted as the "Battle of the Exes." The two were once engaged, a courtship that was featured on the Animal Planet documentary series "Jockeys." The two split, however, in 2010.

The name is a play off the 2003 match race hosted at Del Mar that was titled the "Battle of the Sexes," a face-off between Hall of Famer Julie Krone and Patrick Valenzuela. Aboard Chester’s Choice, Valenzuela defeated Krone by a nose.

Although Sutherland is largely an unfamiliar face to those at Del Mar, this being her first full season there, she could have one advantage come race day: Aug. 7 is Ladies’ Day at Del Mar. However, it will be Smith who is riding the favorite at 3-5, Joker Face, in the one-mile race. Sutherland rides Parable, who is winless in eight starts. Joker Face is also a maiden. This race will be the fourth on Sunday's Del Mar card.

Match races, once a staple of the horse racing industry - Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral, Man o' War vs. Sir Barton - have become increasingly infrequent in the modern game, ever since the tragic death of Ruffian in a 1975 match race.

Smith does have the advantage of experience for this match-up, having grown up riding in match races in New Mexico. For Sutherland, this will be her first time in a match race.

"For Sunday’s race, Smith seems to have the edge," writes DRF.com's Steve Andersen. "Joker Face was second, beaten a neck, in a $30,000 claiming race for maidens at Hollywood Park on July 8, his fourth start. Parable was third in a $40,000 claiming race for maidens at Hollywood Park on May 21, his eighth start." Battle of the Exes race preview

For more on the race and profiles of the two jockeys, see below.

Earlier this week the two exes met up for a prerace news conference:

After the horses were drawn for each rider, Andersen handicapped the pace and strategy for the race:

Q & A: Smith, Sutherland discuss 'Battle of the Exes'


Profile: Chantal Sutherland Profile: Mike Smith

Born: Feb. 23, 1976; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Resides: Sierra Madre, Calif., and Toronto, Canada
Height: 5’ 2”
Weight: 111 pounds
Career: From 2000-2010; 6,474 mounts, 836 wins, $39,977,788 in purses

• Canadian jockey riding her first full Del Mar meeting. So far she has won four times in 42 races with 3 places and two shows.

• Though she was born on the Canadian Prairie, she grew up on the family farm near Toronto. Her father, Paul, trained standardbreds and his athletic daughter was first involved in dressage and jumping competitions, then into soccer and field hockey.

• After graduating from York University in Toronto with a double major in psychology and mass communications, she started to chase the dream of being a rider, first schooling under riders and trainers in the U.S., then accepting her first mount at Woodbine near Toronto in 2000.

• In both 2001 and 2002 she earned Sovereign Award honors in Canada as the country’s leading apprentice rider.

• She had been a Woodbine regular since then, with forays to the States to ride at the major meets at Saratoga and Santa Anita. This year she decided to give the Southern California circuit a full go, riding at Santa Anita and then Hollywood Park prior to coming to Del Mar.

• Was second-leading rider at the Woodbine meeting both in 2008 and 2009, then third-leading rider in 2010, and twice had ridden five winners on a single card at Canada’s premier racetrack.

• In 2008 won a trio of stakes at Woodbine on a promising 2-year-old named Mine That Bird. Alas, she didn’t get the call when he made his winning run in the 2009 Kentucky Derby with Calvin Borel aboard.

• Her 2010 purse winnings of $8,778,038 represent her best year yet in that category.

• Scored the biggest win of her career in 2011 when she coaxed Game On Dude to a hard-fought upset in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, becoming the first female rider to win the historic race in its 74th edition.

• Besides Mine That Bird, has won graded stakes on Mulrainy, Smokume, Gigawatt, Van Lear Rose, Pretty Unusual, Amen Hallelujah, Mr. Rod, and Star Billing.

• Her good looks had her named one of People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People” in 2006 and have generated magazine spreads in both Vogue and Sports Illustrated, as well as various modeling and TV spots.

• She was one of the riders featured on the Animal Planet TV series "Jockeys" – including her then-romantic link to Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith. Also will have a regular role in the upcoming HBO racetrack series "Luck."

• Family: Single.

Born: Aug. 10, 1965; Roswell, N.M.
Resides: Pasadena, Calif.
Height: 5’ 4”
Weight: 111 pounds
Career: 1982-2010; 30,207 mounts, 4,925 wins, $214,733,667 in purses

• Entered racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003; currently the only active member of the Hall riding on the Southern California circuit.

• With the exception of Zenyatta's first three starts, Smith was the main man for the remarkable champion, whose four-year undefeated run ended at 19 straight with her last-gasp loss to the colt Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Smith’s partnership with the massive daughter of Street Cry helped earn her four Eclipse Awards, including the sweetest prize of all — Horse of the Year 2010. Along the way the dynamic duo took down honors in Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

• Was the regular rider for another award-winning female – triple Eclipse winner Azeri, twice champion mare and Horse of the Year in 2002. He rode the chestnut in her first 18 starts, winning 15 times with two seconds and a third.

• Also was at the controls in 2008 for the gray filly Stardom Bound, who made Zenyatta-like moves through the stretch at Del Mar and Santa Anita to capture the Del Mar Debutante, Oak Leaf Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies en route to Eclipse honors as the nation’s top 2-year-old filly.

• Added a sweet prize to his extensive collection in 2010 when he captured the Belmont Stakes for the first time aboard a colt named Drosselmeyer, a $600,000 yearling that he had to “pedal all the way” for a three-quarter-length victory in the Triple Crown’s third jewel.

• Won the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard the John Shirreffs-trained and Jerry and Ann Moss-owned and -bred Giacomo at odds of 50-1. Those same connections campaigned Zenyatta, as well as Madeo, whom Smith rode to capture the Del Mar Derby in 2008.

• Rider built his career mostly on the East Coast, but has done well in Southern California since moving his tack in 2001. Switched his base to Kentucky in 2005 and then rode in the east in 2006 before returning to Southern California full time in 2007.

• Big horse in 2007 was Tiago, half-brother to Giacomo, who won the Santa Anita Derby and finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes. Also won Swaps Stakes and Goodwood that year while finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

• Has now won 13 Breeders’ Cup races, second only to Jerry Bailey’s 15. Five times has won two races on BC cards – 1994 with Tikkanen in the Turf and Cherokee Run in the Sprint; 1995 with Unbridled’s Song in the Juvenile and Inside Information in the Distaff; 1997 with Ajina in the Distaff and Skip Away in the Classic; 2002 with Vindication in the Juvenile and Azeri in the Distaff; and 2008 with Stardom Bound in the Juvenile Fillies and Zenyatta in the Ladies' Classic.

• Won his first Triple Crown race in 1993 when Prairie Bayou took Preakness and can brag of having won 19 races with purses of at least $1 million. Three of those were at Del Mar, first when he guided the 3-year-old Came Home to a victory over older rivals in the 2002 Pacific Classic, then back-to-back in the same race in 2009-10 with the late-kicking Richard’s Kid.

• Added 13 more Grade 1 wins in 2010 to his ever-expanding file of honors.

• Recovered from near-career-ending broken back suffered in a spill at Saratoga in 1998, returning to race riding during 1999 Gulfstream Park season.

• In 1994, led nation’s jockeys in earnings with a then-record $15.9 million. Also established record of 67 stakes victories, breaking his mark of 62 set in 1993. Captured Eclipse Award each of those years as nation’s top jockey.

• Other top horses ridden: Fourstars Allstar, winner of the 2000 Guineas at the Curragh; Holy Bull, 1994 Horse of the Year; two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Lure; and Sky Beauty, Heavenly Prize, Devil His Due, Glitter Woman, Adoration, Alphabet Kisses, and Lion Heart.

• Ranks 10th all-time on money-won list for riders with more than $217 million in purses, including this year.

• Rode first winner – Future Man – at Santa Fe Downs on June 12, 1982. Rode primarily in the Midwest – Oaklawn Park, Churchill Downs, and Canterbury – until heading to New York in late 1989.

• 4,000th winner, Lift Off, on June 17, 2001, at Hollywood Park.

• Son of jockey George Smith.

• Began riding races at age 11 in New Mexico. Took out jockey license when he was 16 in 1982.

• Awards: Mike Venezia Award, 1994; George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, 1999; ESPY Award for outstanding jockey, 1993; “Big Sport of Turfdom” award in 2010, after having been part of winning the same award in 2009 as part of “Team Zenyatta.”

• Was one of the featured characters on the Animal Planet TV series “Jockeys,” notably around his romantic interaction with Canadian rider Chantal Sutherland.

• Family: Single.