Jockey Sonny Leon serves suspension after Kentucky Derby win. It's not the first time_freckle removal doctors

Tim Sullivan, Louisville Courier Journal·3 min read

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.

Jockey agent Jeff Perrin said Leon had been offered opportunities to ride at Gulfstream this week but will instead ride seven races Friday at Cincinnati's Belterra Park before picking up "a little extra business" at Churchill Downs during the weekend.

Day after: Trainer Eric Reed says Rich Strike 'in really good shape' following Kentucky Derby stunner

"We're still trying to come back to earth," Perrin said. "I've reached out to some of the trainers on the backside that I talked to on Derby weekend. What we're not going to do is forget the people who helped us get to the Derby."

Leon has won 71 of his 399 starts this year, but the Derby was the first graded stakes victory of his career.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, it's put him on the map," Perrin said. "It's hard to fathom. Our dream was to draw in and get into the Derby."

Leon was already the No. 1 rider for Rich Strike's trainer, Eric Reed, and had ridden all of Reed's Belterra entries this month prior to his suspension. Reed replaced him with veteran jockey John McKee Tuesday at Belterra, winning one of the races he entered. The total purse for the $18,600 allowance race was equal to 1% of the winner's share of the Derby purse.

Looking ahead: Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike heads possible field for May 21 Preakness at Pimlico

Why is Rich Strike's jockey suspended?

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.

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