Jockey Sonny Leon reacts after Rich Strike wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2022 ( Getty / AFP / Carmen Mandato)

Posts claiming Kentucky Derby jockey snubbed US president repeat old hoax

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Social media posts claim Sonny Leon, jockey for 148th Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, rejected an invitation from the White House and insulted President Joe Biden. The claim is a recycled hoax; the jockey's agent said Leon never made those remarks and that he did not receive an invitation from the White House.

"BREAKING NEWS: 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,'" said a Facebook post published May 8, 2022 following the spectacular win by the long-shot horse.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken May 13, 2022

Similar claims were shared on Twitter and Instagram.

But the Venezuela-born jockey never made those comments and did not receive a White House invitation, his agent told AFP.

"That's completely rubbish," Jeff Perrin said in a phone interview. "Sonny doesn't follow politics. And we never received any invitation" from the White House.

Leon was the jockey for Rich Strike, an 80-1 longshot and just the second horse to win the Kentucky Derby from the 20th post since the modern starting gate was introduced in 1930.

In post-race comments, Leon said he tried to keep the ride "nice and easy" and "waited for my moment and I came through on the stretch."

The false claim also circulated online in 2021 about a different winning Derby jockey. Similar posts were shared following the 2019 race when Donald Trump was president.