03/17/2011 4:00PM

Sutherland intends to ride full-time at Santa Anita

Benoit & Associates
Chantal Sutherland, after winning the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this month, will not return to Woodbine this spring as she has done in the past.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Chantal Sutherland, who won the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this month on Game On Dude, will ride in California on a full-time basis this year, bypassing her plan from previous seasons of leaving in the spring to ride at Woodbine, near Toronto.

Sutherland, 35, said on Thursday that the win in the Big Cap was a contributing factor in her decision, which she reached after consulting with her agent, Brian Beach. In past seasons, Sutherland has ridden in Southern California from mid-December to late March before returning to her native Canada.

“It’s exciting,” Sutherland said. “It’s been a personal goal to ride here year-round. The opportunity, in my heart, says this is the year to try it.”

Through Sunday, Sutherland had 4 wins from 73 mounts, with 8 seconds and 9 thirds since she began riding at Santa Anita in mid-January. The win in the Santa Anita Handicap on Game On Dude was her first Grade 1 win in a career that began in 2000.

“Game On Dude is a horse we’re hanging on to,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland, a native of Canada, was third in the standings at Woodbine last year, and won 18 stakes, her best season at Canada’s leading track. The success made leaving that circuit for California more difficult, she said.

“I don’t want to lose any friends in Canada,” she said. “I’m Canadian and what a great place to ride.”

Sutherland rides five of the 10 races on Saturday’s program, including the Grade 1 winner Eclair de Lune for the first time in the $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes. She said the win on Game On Dude has helped her gain mounts.

“What Brian and I both feel is that a couple of books will start to open up,” she said. “We’ve had some energy from that race. It’s helped since.”

Sutherland was supposed to ride Game On Dude in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 26, but the horse will miss the race because of a quarter crack, trainer Bob Baffert said. Baffert said on Thursday that he did not have any plans for Game On Dude’s next start.