by Mike Willman/Santa Anita
A certified all-time great and longtime member of Racing’s Hall of Fame, Eddie Delahoussaye, for whom Friday’s main event at Santa Anita, the Grade 2, $200,000 Eddie D Stakes, is named, will not be on-hand to present the winner’s trophy along with his wife Juanita.
“With all the Covid stuff going on, we just weren’t able to make it out this year,” said the popular Cajun native from his home in Lafayette, La. “At my age (69), you never know what you’re gonna get! Hopefully things will get back to normal and we can make the trip again next year.”
Retired due to injury in 2003, Delahoussaye, 69, who has worked part time as a blood stock agent and has dabbled in racehorse ownership himself, is in the process of taking on a new role—that of racing commissioner with the state of Louisiana. Although he won’t be officially sworn in until the Louisiana state legislature reconvenes in June, he’s serving in the role of apprentice commissioner in the interim.
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On Jan. 1, Kent Desormeaux entered his 34th year of race riding with over 6,000 career victories. Desormeaux recently shipped his tack to Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif., rode two races and indicated he would like to ride at the Bayside track for an extended period of time. He will be represented by agent J.R. Pegram.
A native of Louisiana, Desormeuax is the second winningest Cajun jockey in history. Eddie Delahoussaye, who like Desormeaux is an inductee in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., posted 6,384 wins throughout a remarkable career that spanned over four decades. Desormeaux has guided 6,031 winners and needs 354 more to pass Delahoussaye as the all-time winningest Cajun jockey.
Desormeaux is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner. He won the 1998 edition aboard Real Quiet, finished first two years later atop Fusaichi Pegasus, and was the regular rider for 2008 victor Big Brown. Desormeaux has also won three Preakness Stakes (in 1998, 2008, 2016) and was victorious in the 2009 Belmont Stakes with Summer Bird. He is a six-time Breeders Cup winner, too, and has amassed career purse earnings of $285,608,407.
As Desormeaux approaches his 50th birthday on Feb. 27, however, his production has slowed. While still a teenager, Desormeaux set an all-time record for single-season wins in 1989 when he rode 597 winners – a record that still stands. In 2019, riding with limited opportunities at his longtime base in Southern California – where racing dates were cut and field sizes were reduced – he won just 36 races. A move in November to Fair Grounds in his native Louisiana yielded only three wins from 69 mounts, so he’s moving his tack to Northern California in hopes of putting together bigger numbers.
“A couple of leading trainers [at Golden Gate] said they would ride me if I came here,” said Desormeuax. “I’m giving it a shot. I’m all in.”