One of horse racing’s most up-and-down careers is set to take another turn.
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux will appear before stewards at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club later this month, per The Daily Racing Form. He has not ridden since January, and was formally suspended in March.
Desormeaux’s current legal situation
The 52-year-old rider’s career has been interrupted by substance-abuse issues multiple times. Desormeaux entered rehab in both 2016 and 2020 to combat his demons.
However, he was arrested in Louisiana in late-January and accused of domestic abuse and battery. Shortly thereafter, 1/ST Racing, the parent company of California horse racing venues Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, expressed Desormeaux was “not welcome” to ride at its facilities. The state of Louisiana has not filed charges, but has up to three years to do so.
Less than two months later, Desormeaux failed to appear at a hearing involving alleged alcohol abuse at Del Mar last November. The California Horse Racing Board complaint alleges Desormeaux entered an argument that attracted security officials. He admitted consuming alcohol, which violated an agreement he entered following his 2020 rehab stint.
Desormeaux’s dizzying highs and lows
Desormeaux boasts seven wins in Triple Crown races, six Breeders’ Cup wins, and two Eclipse Awards as America’s top jockey. His career also includes a 2004 induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
On two occasions, Desormeaux came to Belmont Park with chances to win the Triple Crown. In 1998, he and Real Quiet turned for home in front, but lost a photo finish to the fast-closing Victory Gallop.
Ten years later, he piloted Big Brown, a heavy Belmont Stakes favorite after impressive wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. However, Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up around the far turn and eased him out of the race.
Some of Desormeaux’s other more notable mounts include Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, and Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Summer Bird. Desormeaux has won more than 6,000 races during his career. His 32,502 mounts have combined to earn more than $290 million.
Will CA horse racing welcome Desormeaux back?
The hearing comes Friday, July 29, a week after Del Mar’s opening day. Racing continues at the San Diego-area track through Sunday, Sept. 11.
It’s possible Desormeaux returns to the saddle prior to the end of the meet. He’s no stranger to success where the turf meets the surf. He captured the 1992 Pacific Classic aboard Best Pal, and has won the Del Mar Futurity twice.
“He sounds great and very anxious to get back to work,” attorney Roger Licht told DRF when asked about his client.