Model and jockey keeps her eyes on the prize while in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS -- Chantal Sutherland is one of five female jockeys training at the New Orleans fairgrounds this thoroughbred racing season.

This isn't just a story about a female in a man's sport, but about finding strength in numbers.

"Racing is a boys club, for sure," said Sutherland. "I'm proud to be a female, and to have so many females riding along side of me here in New Orleans this season, that have dreams of going all the way."

Sutherland made the decision to relocate to New Orleans from Del Mar, California, for two reasons. Her partner is from New Orleans, and secondly, according to Chantal, "this is the place to be if you want to land a horse for the Kentucky Derby."

Racing has brought her all over the world from Hong Kong to Dubai, where she had the honor to race in the $10 million Dubai Duty Free World Cup, becoming the first female jockey to ride professionally in the Middle East.

She's been racing for 18 years, and has caught the eye of Hollywood along the way, making appearances on Conan O'Brian, posing for billboards for the Del Mar racetrack, and even landing a shoot for Vanity Fair.

"When I started racing I had no idea if I would be successful, but I told myself that if I was passionate about what it was I was doing then the money would come later. Ultimately, we all want to pay our bills, but it's important to love what you do," Sutherland said.

Jockeys have to remain under a certain weight, so the one difficulty Sutherland admits having this season is avoiding all of the fattening food New Orleans has to offer.

"The food here!'s all so good, even the BBQ chicken at Rouses," she laughs. "It's a lot different than California so I definitely have to be careful of what I eat."

Chantal said the key to a successful career as a jockey is simple. Win.

"They notice when you're cashing checks. If I'm not first I want to be second or third. It doesn't matter if your a girl, boy, black, white, or pink. If you keep winning they will ride you," said Sutherland.


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