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Kentucky Derby-winning Jockey Sonny Leon suspended

Days after his career triumph, Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Sonny Leon is serving a suspension for careless riding.

Leon rode 80-1 longshot Rich Strike to victory at Churchill Downs on Saturday after the horse was entered as a late replacement for a horse that was scratched. This week, Leon’s serving a four-day suspension for careless riding during an April 27 race at Ohio’s Thistledown Racecourse, the Associated Press reports.

The suspension is Leon’s fifth since last fall. The Louisville Courier Journal reports that three of those suspensions were for careless riding. He served a separate suspension for “presenting false and altered documents from a physical examination to West Virginia stewards and another for inflicting visible injuries on one of his mounts through misuse of the whip,” the Courier Journal reports.

In total, he has been suspended 32 days since Sept. 15. His agent Jeff Perrin told AP that Leon will be eligible to ride in the Preakness if Rich Strike is entered.

Jockey Sonny Leon tosses roses into the air 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/Brynn Anderson)

Jockey Sonny Leon tosses roses into the air 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/Brynn Anderson)

Will Rich Strike run in the Preakness?

Rich Strike’s owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed haven’t yet decided if the horse will run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, scheduled for May 21. Reed said this week that they’d initially planned on a five-week break for Rich Strike after the Derby before competing in the Belmont Stakes on June 21. A shot at the Triple Crown obviously changes that equation.

“It’s not that we can’t compete,” Reed said. “It’s, does that shoot [a chance at winning] Belmont completely?” The risk of injury, the risk of overtraining, the risk of a bad finish … it all plays into the question of whether to chase history.”

Perrin assured AP that Leon will be ready to ride at the Preakness if called upon.

“Our job is to go where we need to be, but we don’t make those decisions,” Perrin said.

For now, Leon is sidelined after Ohio stewards determined that he “deliberately and aggressively” steered his horse One Glamorous Gal to the rail in an effort to block other horses down the stretch of the April 27 race. One Glamorous Gal was disqualified from her third-place finish and ended up placing sixth because of the violation. Per AP, Leon’s suspension started Monday and ends on Thursday.

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