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Meet Jockey Danush Sukie!
Only one fan in the Handicapping & Business Center could guess the origin of jockey Danush Sukie. Sukie’s great-grandparents emigrated from India to Jamaica, making him third-generation Jamaican but of 100% Indian heritage.
Sukie was born in 1973 but his family moved to New York in 1980 in search of greater opportunities. “However, my dad really couldn’t handle the winters,” Sukie began, “so, in 1980, my family moved to Florida.” Sukie is a product of North Miami Beach High School (the Vikings), Class of ’93.
Following graduation Sukie worked for a time in a grocery store, and for AT&T. “I really didn’t like being inside, though,” he explained. “I really wanted to do something that allowed me to be outdoors.
“I had two cousins and an uncle that were jockeys, and another that was a trainer,” Sukie continued. “My dad loved going to the racetrack, and I would go to the track with him on weekends. So, I was exposed to horseracing in several ways. Eventually I began going to a farm where my cousins would work horses, and I began riding myself. That marked my late beginning to becoming a jockey.”
Sukie followed a common progression. First, it was doing all the entry-level jobs on a horse farm. Next he became a hot walker and groom. Eventually he made the move to exercise rider, taking out his license in 1994.
Two years later, at age 22, Sukie earned his apprentice jockey license and began his apprenticeship at Calder Race Course. From Calder he moved to Gulfstream Park where he lost his bug (completed his apprenticeship) near the end of the 1997 Gulfstream meet.
Then, as happens all too often to riders, Sukie was seriously injured in a spill. His recovery took six months. “I returned to the saddle at Calder, but it was tough coming back,” he admitted. “When you’re out for that long, all your business that you developed previously is gone to other riders.”
Sukie moved to Tampa Bay Downs for the 1998-99 winter meet. Tampa became his winter home, but he tried several other tracks when Tampa wasn’t racing.
In 2003 his Tampa agent, Bob Stanley, made a suggestion. “Bob said it was time to try somewhere totally new,” related Sukie. “He knew people at Fairmount Park and made some calls, and put me together with Jimmy McComas who became my agent at Fairmount when I shifted my tack there. That move was the right one for me.”
For the last three years Sukie has been second in the jockey standings at Fairmount. For 2006 his win rate for the year was a high 21%.
While based at Fairmount Sukie has been able to ship to area tracks such as Ellis Park, Hoosier Downs, Indiana Downs, The Woodlands, and Prairie Meadows. At Prairie Meadows Sukie won back-to-back Iowa Oaks ($100,000), in 2004 and 2005, aboard Wild And Royal for owner Bill Stiritz and trainer Jimmy Zook when that powerful team was together.
“Fairmount is running three days per week right now,” Sukie continued. “I go there on Tuesdays to ride in five or six races. That also gives me a chance to be with my 10-year-old son, Chancellor, who lives nearby.”
Sukie is pleased with his stay at Hawthorne. “My agent, Jodie Sinclair, and I have been developing good business here,” offered Sukie, who is currently winning at a 19% clip. “I plan to stay for the meet.”