Breeders' Cup: A Gem of a Story

Jockeys Mike Smith and Chantal Sutherland were engaged in a Classic battle on the track at Churchill Downs, but here is an inside look at the day they picked up an engagement ring at an Arcadia jewelry store in February 2010.

“They were once engaged, Mike Smith and Chantal Sutherland."

That was how the lead story in the early edition of the Sports section of the Sunday New York Times began.

The story went on to explain how they were “just two riders on a couple of horses nobody thought had much of chance of winning the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

We’re talking about the Super Bowl of horse racing. The race took place last Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, and the horse ridden by Mike Smith came on strong to beat Chantal’s front-running horse by a head in thrilling fashion, as the world now knows.

“This was strictly Hollywood ,” wrote Art Wilson in the Pasadena Star-News, who was in Louisville. “Are you kidding me?”

Well, Arcadia Patch has a different angle on this story. It’s about the engagement ring Smith bought for Sutherland at in Arcadia in February 2010.

I remember it well because I was at when the couple came in to pick up the ring. Earlier that day I was at San Luis Rey Downs, a horse training center in northern San Diego County. I was working on a magazine story for the Thoroughbred Times when I got a call for Si “Lam” Huynh, the owner of Prince Jewelers, located at 411 E. Huntington Drive.

Lam, as he is commonly known, said Mike and Chantal were coming in at 5:30 to pick up the engagement ring Mike had purchased. Lam thought there might be a story here–or at least a photo opportunity.

I hustled back to Arcadia in order to be at Prince Jewelers in time.

But it was for naught. Mike said he preferred to keep his private life private. So that’s what we did. All we did was run the photo you see here on the princejewelers.com website.

But now the world has been talking about this formerly engaged couple who have since gone their separate ways. So I called Mike to get his permission to run the photo on Arcadia Patch. He said that was fine, so that is the story behind the photo that you see here.

One other thing: Putting the horses ridden by Smith and Sutherland in an exacta bet paid off nicely. A winning $2 exacta ticket paid $444.80. Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay had a winning $5 exacta ticket that paid $1,112. I also had a winning exacta ticket. It was just too good of a hunch bet to pass up. And so was writing this story about the day that Mike Smith and Chantal Sutherland officially became engaged. At least temporarily.

Vicki Vinson November 10, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Horse racing has always had a lot of good stories behind the scenes and this is one of them. Love the human interests stories in racing, keep them coming!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »