Desormeaux Has Back-To-Back Riding Triples After Stewards Issue Alcohol-Related Ruling

In 2004, after 18 years as a professional jockey, Kent Desormeaux was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He was 34.

Desormeaux’s induction into the Hall was earned after winning three Eclipse Awards, two Kentucky Derbies, a Preakness and setting a North American record for wins in a season. In 1989, Desormeaux rode a whopping 598 winners. It ranks as one of most unbreakable records in the world of sports.

Now age 53, Desormeaux on Saturday displayed that Hall of Fame form with a master class in the saddle at Santa Anita. With an ideal ride stalking the pace in the opener, plus two exquisitely timed rallies from last on the back-half of the 10-race card, he finished with three wins on the 10-race card.


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Desormeaux Patriarch, Founder Of Acadiana Downs Bush Track, Dies At Age 80

Harris Desormeaux

Harris Desormeaux died at age 80 on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center in central Louisiana. The father of Hall of Fame jockey Kent and multiple Grade 1-winning trainer Keith, Harris Desormeaux was also the founder of the well-known Acadiana Downs bush track.

“My husband was the one who had a dear love of horses, and our first argument after we married was over a horse,” Harris’ wife, Brenda Desormeaux, told the Chicago Tribune in 2008. “He was in college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and working two jobs as a lab technician and a security guard. I was a secretary getting my PHT — putting hubby through [school].

“One day he came home and told me he had bought a Quarter Horse. I said: ‘You did what? Where are we going to put it and where are we going to find the money to feed it?’ Somehow we found the money to rent a stall and feed it. I never cared much for horse racing, but it’s part of the Cajun culture. Kent’s interest was piqued when his dad had the racetrack.”

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Desormeaux to resume riding on Del Mar opener

Brad Free


DEL MAR, Calif. – Troubled jockey Kent Desormeaux resumes riding on Friday at Del Mar, grateful for sobriety and welcoming the opportunity to restore his reputation as a preeminent jockey.

Desormeaux is named Friday on two horses, his first mounts since his career unraveled again early this year. In January, he was arrested in Louisiana on a charge of domestic abuse and later suspended 60 days by the California Horse Racing Board as a result of a 2021 altercation at an RV Park near Del Mar. Desormeaux has not ridden since Jan. 23.

The 52-year-old jockey, a three-time Eclipse Award winner and Hall of Fame inductee whose career has been interrupted multiple times due to misconduct, expressed humility and enthusiasm this week as he prepares for a comeback.


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Desormeaux Brothers Team Up with Oviatt Class

Son of Bernardini starts Nov. 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.


Racing fans don’t need the overnight to learn the jockey on the Keith Desormeaux-trained Oviatt Class  in the $2 million TVG Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) Nov. 5 at Del Mar. It’s Keith’s brother, Kent.

“As I told you and I tell everybody else, I’ve got no choice while my mother’s still living,” quipped Keith.

One liners aside, Keith wouldn’t want it differently. Ask him to comment on Kent, and he is quick to praise his younger sibling, who resumed riding over the winter after addressing repeat alcohol abuse. Last summer in the Del Mar area, he was involved in a physical altercation after drinking and was also accused of using a racial epithet—actions that led the track to bar him from riding for the rest of its summer meet.


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Desormeaux Sidelined After Suffering Back Injury In Santa Anita Spill

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux will be on the sidelines after suffering what he called “a couple lil bone cracks in my back”  as a result of a spill in Saturday’s fifth race at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

Desormeaux, who turns 51 on Feb. 27, was aboard Scat’s Choice for trainer Vann Belvoir in the $25,000 claiming race going six furlongs on the main track when the horse suffered a catastrophic injury approaching the far turn while just behind the early leader. Desormeaux was thrown to the ground but did not appear to be struck by any trailing horses.

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Desormeaux Returns to Action After Rehab

Kent DesormeauxBenoit

By Dan Ross

When racing returns to Santa Anita Dec. 26, it does so in a blitzkrieg of high-octane firepower, with races like the GI Malibu S., GI La Brea S. and GI American Oaks luring headline grabbers from across the country.

As things go, race three on the card–a $16,000 claimer–is a far less exulted companion to its starrier cousins. But the race contains its own prodigal return…that of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux after a hiatus from the saddle. Still, it’s just the sort of low-key call to arms the jockey is looking for.

“It’s not something you get control of and go tell the world about your accomplishment,” said Desormeaux, of his newly established sobriety after a tumultuous six-month period culminating from decades of struggle.

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Desormeaux Quest To Be Leading Cajun Takes Him To Golden Gate Fields

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.”

Desormeaux Returns to Louisiana to Ride at Fair Grounds

The 49-year-old rider leaves California, his longtime base.

Cajun-born Kent Desormeaux, who began his Hall of Fame career as a jockey at the unsanctioned “bush tracks” of Louisiana on his way to riding more than 6,000 winners, has returned home to Louisiana to ride full time at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this winter.

Frustrated by reduced opportunities in California, where he has predominantly ridden since 2014, Desormeaux sought a change in circuits. He is experiencing one of his quietest years as a jockey, with 34 winners from 269 mounts and earnings of $2.4 million. He last rode at Del Mar Nov. 10, winning with one of his two mounts that afternoon.


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Kent Desormeaux Rides 6,000th Winner


Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux reached a milestone only 18 others in North America have met Jan. 27 at Santa Anita Park, when he rode X S Gold to victory to secure his 6,000th win.

The California-bred filly by Golden Balls didn’t seem to have much of a chance to catch loose leader Madaket Sunset in the one-mile turf allowance, but like he’s done so many times before, Desormeaux got his mount to find her best stride late in the stretch.

With 3 1/2 lengths to make up and a furlong to run, X S Gold, a homebred for trainer Jim Cassidy and DP Racing, rallied on the outside to get up by a head at the wire.

“I can humbly say that I’m truly honored and proud of the number—6,000,” Desormeaux told on-track host Peter Lurie after the race. “I can definitely attest that it wasn’t easy to get here, especially the last two months. … I also know that I am truly appreciative of everyone that gave me the confidence to take the reins.”

The 48-year-old jockey—who has won seven Triple Crown races, six Breeders’ Cup races, and three Eclipse Awards (top apprentice in 1987 and top jockey in 1989 and 1992)—said he still has more goals in his sights.

“I can’t wait to wake up every day and pass Eddie (Delahoussaye, who has 6,383 wins, 15th all-time),” Desormeaux said. “I’m a very goal-oriented jockey, so I have about 380 more wins to go. I’m not going anywhere before then.”

The Louisiana-born jockey began riding in 1986, and his highest victory total came in 1989, when he rode 597 winners from 2,312 starts. His best earnings season came in 2008, when he brought in more than $15.6 million in purses. He won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) with Big Brown  that year. It was the second time he won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, after he did it with Real Quiet in 1998.

The ‘Cajun Connection’ At Del Mar Has Tales To Tell

by | 08.11.2017 | 1:27pm

Kent Desormeaux, Joe Talamo, and Jamie Theriot

Cajun: An ethnic group mainly living in southwest Louisiana consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles (French-speakers from what now is Nova Scotia) who have exerted an enormous impact on the state’s music, food and culture – Wikipedia

Anyone who follows U.S. racing knows about the Cajuns and their imprint on the game. The horsemen who have come out of the bayou and swamp areas centering on Lafayette, Louisiana have dominated racing in that state and rippled out to touch racing locales all around the country.

This is especially so when it comes to race riders. For many years now the phrase “Cajun jockey” has been comparable to, say, Kenyan marathon runner or Canadian hockey player. Ten times the Kentucky Derby has been won by a Cajun rider. Five times racing’s Hall of Fame has beckoned a Cajun jock.

A quick scan of a general Cajun jockey roster would include names such as Albarado, Ardoin, Avant, Bernis, Borel, Borque, Broussard, Carmouche, Delahoussaye, Delhomme, Guerin, Guidry, Hernandez, Jr., Lanerie, Meche, Melancon, Perret, Perrodin, Romero, Sellers and Sibille.

You can add three more names to that list and take them right off this year’s Del Mar jockey roster: Kent Desormeaux, Jamie Theriot and Joe Talamo.

Befitting their Cajun roots, their names have a lovely rhythm to them: “De-sor-mo,” “Therry-O” and “Tal-ah-mo.” If you mix in some fiddle, concertina and accordion, no doubt you could come up with a Zydeco tune that would have folks up and dancing.

And what the trio of Del Mar horsebackers has in common is starting their schooling – even before they started their careers — in “the bushes,” the series of backwoods, unregulated and unshackled racetracks that flourished in southwest Louisiana from roughly the 1930s through the 1990s. They often were “bullrings” with rails (mostly) all the way around and starting gates for the beginnings; they sometimes were simply straights with rails down the middle for lanes and cow pastures for pulling up in. They featured mostly four-legged equines, primarily Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, though mules, Appaloosas, Shetland ponies, dogs and other sorts of four- and two-legged beasts and men that were capable of being matched up and bet on were occasionally employed.

They were all wild and wooly tailgating heavens filled with crawfish, gumbo, bar-b-q and other sorts of Louisiana treats cooking away; kingdoms filled with six-packs and kegs; man-on-man betting parlors (“I got $20 on the 2, you can have all the rest.”) where serious money regularly changed hands, and, in Cajun fashion, the tracks often were family-run. Besides all that, they also were among the great training grounds in all of sports.

Desormeaux, one of the most successful jockeys of our time who can brag of Hall of Fame credentials, three trips to the winner’s circle in the Kentucky Derby and nearly 6,000 winning rides on “legitimate” racetracks, just lights up in a smile when he’s asked about “the bushes.”

“Oh, man,” says the 47-year-old native of Maurice (10 miles southwest of Lafayette), “you’re talking about some seriously good memories now. I’ve got some stories to tell about those days.”

Theriot, 38, hails from Breaux Bridge (nine miles northeast of Lafayette), and took to riding in match races very early. “I was eight years old when I rode in my first match,” the rider says with a straight face. Yes, he said eight.

Shadwell Farm

Talamo, the 27-year-old “kid” of the bunch, was born in Marrero, just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, which is about 135 miles east of Lafayette. “But I’ve got Cajun on both sides of the family,” he says. “Cajun and Sicilian. How scary is that?”

Though they came at it in different decades, they all went to Bushes School – Desormeaux when “bush racing” was in full swing; Theriot right at the very end of the “bush” era, and Talamo when one of the more famous “bush” tracks – the Quarter Pole in Rayne (18 miles west of Lafayette) – was reopened as a training center in the early 2000s and they ran “schooling” races for teenagers who wanted to be race riders.

“You know,” notes the vibrant Desormeaux, “I rode about a hundred races in ‘the bushes’ before I rode my first ‘real’ race. When I first rode at Evangeline (Downs in Opelousas, about 25 miles north of Lafayette) in 1986, they gave me a 10-pound bug. I thought I was stealing. I was full of confidence and knew I was ready.”

It didn’t take him long to show it. He went from Evangeline to Louisiana Downs to Maryland and a run of riding victories that have yet to be matched. He won 450 races in 1987 (and an Eclipse as the nation’s top apprentice); 474 races in 1988, and 598 in 1989 (and another Eclipse as the nation’s leading rider). His 598 victories in a year is the best ever recorded.

But back to Theriot and riding match races at the age of eight. For real?

“You bet,” says the long (5′ 7”) and wiry reinsman who has won nearly 2,500 races in 22 years in the “big time.” “My daddy (Harold) was a trainer; had about 60 head of horses back then. I first learned on Quarter Horses; really liked riding them. First match race I rode was on a Quarter. I was eight and weighed about 45 pounds at the time; they put me in against an adult. I beat him.”

That was the beginning; then it became a regular happening. “Every weekend,” Theriot recalled. “So much fun; so exciting looking forward to it. Three hundred or four hundred people yelling, shouting, cheering. The environment was so special. The people; the food. Bar-b-q. Oh, yes. It was all so good.”

Especially for a third grader.

Talamo wasn’t riding match races at eight, but he grew up with a horse in his backyard and was up on horseback not long after he learned to walk. He was galloping horses at 12 and riding “schooling” races at 14.

“I was 14 and riding in races at the Quarter Pole against Cody Meche, Randall Toups and David Borque,” he remembered. “We were all 14 or 15. I won a race on a horse named Marie Laveau (New Orleans’ famous voodoo queen). Boy, that was special. I was wearing a pair of jockey pants that Robby Albarado gave me. My father bet $20 to win on me. I got a roast beef po’ boy (sandwich). I felt like I’d won a Triple Crown race.”

Talamo had just finished 10th grade and got his jockey license and spent the summer riding at Louisiana Downs (in Bossier City, about 200 miles northwest of Lafayette). He’d promised his folks he was going back to school in September (“One of the great selling jobs of all time,” he says.) But he got hot at the end of the meet, rode that on into a hotter streak that saw him win the riding title (over Albarado) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and get a call from Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel to come ride in California. More than 1,700 wins and $92-million in purses later, he’s a Southern California fixture.

One of Desormeaux’s favorite “bushes” tales deals with a mostly Quarter Horse named Skunk Em Up.

“Had some Appaloosa in him and the spots came up over his knee, so they couldn’t call him a Quarter Horse,” he reminisced. “But he was fast, really fast. I weighed about 90 pounds at the time and his trainer, Dale White, had me ride him in match races in Louisiana. He was down for good money — $5,000, $10,000. We went three times, won all three. Then he set up another match in Mississippi. I rode in the van in the back with the horse, feeding him hay all the way over. We went like a shot there, too, and won that one. That was it, though. The game was up. Nobody would take him on after that.”

Among the great stories coming out of “the bushes” were sagas of “catch weight” races (you can put anyone or anything you want on a horse’s back – the lighter, obviously, the better). A classic example was when a chicken was tied on as the “rider,” an extraordinary bit of horsemanship made famous by a bit in the 1978 movie “Casey’s Shadow.”

Did our trio ride in any chicken races?

Talamo did not, but the other two did.

“Oh, yeah,” said Desormeaux. “I rode against chickens. I even remember a match race where both horses had chickens on their back.”

Theriot did it just once. Who, he was asked, won?

The rider lowered his head, then fessed up: “The chicken.”

For those so inclined, days in “the bushes” and fine tales of Cajun racing are well told in the 2008 book “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” by New York-based turf writer Ed McNamara. It’s a good read with a fine feel for a special place and its special people for anyone wanting to learn more about a most colorful and unique subject.

For those wanting an insightful thought from a man who was right in the middle of it all, here’s this from Desormeaux:

“You know, until Chris (Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron) started his jockey school in the last few years in Kentucky, this country really didn’t have a national one. Lots of other places do – Puerto Rico, Panama, South America. That’s a big advantage for a young rider. But in Louisiana – in “the bushes” – we had our own riding school. We learned lots of lessons and had lots of fun. In a lot of ways, you couldn’t have asked for a better one.”