'It's Horse Racing, Not Jockey Racing': Migliore Doesn't Believe Sonny Leon's Saddle Slipped - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘It’s Horse Racing, Not Jockey Racing’: Migliore Doesn’t Believe Sonny Leon’s Saddle Slipped

Jockey Sonny Leon has been suspended for 15 days after the ride he gave Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike in Saturday's Grade 2 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs, though Leon told media after the race that his left-leaning position was due to the saddle slipping. Rich Strike was beaten to the wire by Hot Rod Charlie and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Award-winning retired jockey-turned-broadcaster Richard Migliore was not impressed with Leon's actions. He broke down the stretch run on the New York Racing Association broadcast of America's Day at the Races (see video below).

“First and foremost, it takes away from the performance of two very courageous racehorses in Hot Rod Charlie and Rich Strike,” Migliore said. “The conversation becomes about a rider leaning all off to the left of his horse to put an elbow into another rider to slow down his forward progress.

“Honestly I think the tactics, besides being wrong, were a complete mistake, because why would you go pick a fight with Hot Rod Charlie, who likes to fight? You had momentum, stay away from him! Instead, Sonny Leon chose to break the hold on his rein, lean in and pull his horse toward (Hot Rod Charlie). When you lean in and pull a horse toward another horse, you're actually slowing their forward progress.

“Now, the story after the race was, 'Well, his saddle slipped.' I did not see that at all. If it did slip at all, it was because of him leaning so hard to the left. I find it harder to believe the saddle slipped if you watch the head on and watch the horses galloping out; after the wire, he changes his crop back from his left hand to his right hand with a hand off the rein. If your saddle actually had slipped, you'd be more concerned with keeping the saddle in the middle of the horse instead of being all loose and up in the air. His legs are in the same position they were when he left the paddock on the gallop out.

“So, I was born at night, just not last night. Stop; it's enough. It's horse racing, not jockey racing.”

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