Winning the Kentucky Derby could be career-changing for Sonny Leon, but not right away.
Rich Strike’s jockey is serving a suspension this week, his fifth since September.
Two days after riding an 80-1 shot to victory in America’s most prestigious horse race, the 32-year-old Venezuelan began a four-day suspension for careless riding that will prevent him from competing again until Friday.
According to regulatory rulings compiled by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, this latest penalty is Leon’s third careless riding suspension in the past nine months. He has also been sanctioned for presenting false and altered documents from a physical examination to West Virginia stewards and for inflicting visible injuries on one of his mounts through misuse of the whip.
The five suspensions total 32 days Leon has or will be sidelined since Sept. 15.
“You do have to be aggressive to win,” jockey agent Jeff Perrin said. “I think there are judgment calls that people make, and I don’t want to comment on it too much for political reasons. But you have to be aggressive.”