Updated on 09/25/2013 11:51AM

Meadows: Chantal Sutherland-Kruse sets North American record on a trotter


Chantal Sutherlund-Kruse, the Canadian Thoroughbred jockey who is the only female rider ever to win the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup, added harness racing rider to her resume when she rode trotter DW’s NY Yank to a North American record 1:59 mile clocking Monday afternoon (Sept. 23) at The Meadows Racetrack in southwest Pennsylvania.

The time-trial set a record trotting under saddle on a five-eighths-mile track, previously held by rider Karen Isbell and trotter Fort Valley As (1:59 1/5) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 29.

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Sutherland–Kruse was amazed at the differences between riding a Thoroughbred and Standardbred. The biggest difference, she said, was how jockeys must “push” a Thoroughbred in order to get them to go faster, while Standardbred riders must hold the bit in the horse’s mouth or they will begin to gallop, negating any record attempts.

“I just had to keep pulling,” said Sutherland-Kruse, 37. “Pull, pull, pull. Every time I let up on the reins he would break. I won’t be able to wash my hair tonight.”

Sutherland-Kruse, 37, attired in fluorescent pink silks and a white helmet painted with orange flames, broke stride with DW’s NY Yank in the first attempt just past the half-mile marker, timed in 1:01.

Sutherland-Kruse tried again 60 minutes later, this time behind the starting gate. This time the gelding broke stride shortly after the start, but before the quarter mile, which allowed for a restart.

She brought DW’s NY Yank back on stride and gathered him up behind the starting gate again and this time guided the 4-year-old gelding by Dilbert Hanover through fractions of :28, :57 3/5 and 1:27 3/5 before coming home in :31 2/5 to set the new mark.

"It is amazing the fine balance it takes to keep trotters from breaking," said Sutherland-Kruse. "You have to be so fit and strong."

North America’s all-time leading driver, Dave Palone, who finished the day one win short of 16,000, served as a prompter driving behind the jockey to help her break the record.

Ron Burke, perennial winningest trainer in North America, spent the last few weeks training DW’s NY Yank to race under saddle in preparation for the record attempt.

“Chantal did an awesome job,” he said.

-edited release (by Dan Leary, USTA director of marketing and communications)