Fact Check: Kentucky Derby Winning Jockey Did NOT Reject White House Invitation By Referring To 'A Horse's Ass' -- It's Old Fake Quote

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: Kentucky Derby Winning Jockey Did NOT Reject White House Invitation By Referring To 'A Horse's Ass' -- It's Old Fake Quote Recycled Hoax

Did winning Kentucky Derby jockey Sonny Leon turn down a White House invitation, saying he didn't want to see "a horse's ass"? No, that's not true: This is a fake quote that has been recycled since at least 2018 and previously debunked by Lead Stories.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post on May 8, 2022. Beside the image of jockey Sonny Leon at what appears to be a horse racing track, the post reads:


148th Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike jockey Sonny Leon just turned down a White House invite saying 'If I wanted to see a horse's ass I would have came in second' 🐎🏆

This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:

Kentucky Derby Winner Sonny Leon.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 9 17:37:26 2022 UTC)

This claim has been falsely attributed to various previous Kentucky Derby winners, including to the winning horse in one instance.

The earliest version was found in a June 10, 2018, Reddit post that cited this quote as a joke about "Triple Crown winner Justify." In 2021, Lead Stories debunked the exact claim in this post -- which was falsely attributed to jockey John Velazquez.

On May 8, 2022, the same day this post was published, Leon was really quoted saying:

'You know we had a difficult post but I know the horse. I didn't know if he could win but I had a good feeling with him. I had to wait until the stretch and that's what I did. I waited and then the rail opened up. I wasn't nervous, I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse.'

There was no reference in his remarks to a White House invitation.

A reverse image search revealed that the photo in the post displays Leon posing in 2020 at Belterra Park near Cincinnati.

Lead Stories reached out to Leon's agent regarding this claim and will update this story if a response is received.

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  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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