An official warning was issued by stewards at Santa Anita Park to jockey Kent Desormeaux on June 10 for his actions during a May 28 workout on their track.
Steward Kim Sawyer said she and fellow stewards would have gone even further in their actions, but were unable to find a rule in the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) guidelines they could have employed for Desormeaux’s actions that took place on May 28 on top of Demonslayer.
During the workout, Desormeaux whipped Demonslayer towards the end of their workout, and once they galloped out, Desormeaux hit the horse three times on the shoulder. There was video of the incident posted to xbtv.com, but it was taken down due to negative social media attention.
“We could have very easily penalized him, but we couldn’t find a rule to use,” said Sawyer. “What was upsetting to me was that he hit the horse after the workout.” Sawyer also mentioned how there’s now a CHRB proposal being put together to address workout whip usage.
Desormeaux defended his gallop whip usage by saying he thought Demonslayer was going to “prop”, or dig his front legs and abruptly stop.
“He was trying to pull up and prop,” said Desormeaux. “The only difference between me and other guys was I was standing up and not (riding with) my hands. If (Demonslayer) had his way, he would have turned around or stopped entirely.”
Sawyer and her fellow stewards didn’t believe Desormeaux’s explanation. “I think it’s fair to say we didn’t buy the propping explanation,” said Sawyer.
Demonslayer trainer Bob Hess Jr. was concerned at first, but satisfied with Desormeaux’s explanation.
“The horse is cantankerous,” said Hess. “We trust Kent, but we were concerned. (Demonslayer) has a has a habit of knowing where the wire is and hitting the air brakes. Kent has been riding for me for 20 years. It was for Kent’s safety. Personally we both hate to hit a horse. I have a policy not to hit horses in my barn, because they can’t hit back. If you want to hit a horse, come and hit me, because I can hit back.”