Hometown Brothers Kent and Keith Desormeaux Look for First Louisiana Derby Win
Last year was ‘magical’ according to jockey Kent Desormeaux. Along with brother Keith, the two became the first brother trainer/jockey tandem to win the Preakness Stakes, following their second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, April 1, the Louisiana natives who grew up in Maurice 2 ½ hours from the Fair Grounds Race Course, will try to win their first Louisiana Derby.
“We are coming home to try to win the signature race of our home state,” Kent said. “This is something that is on our bucket list. I’ve won the Kentucky Derby, the Illinois Derby, the Mississippi Derby and all kinds of derbies. But I’ve never won the Louisiana Derby. This is huge for us. It’s a meaningful race family-wise.”
Desormeaux rode Exaggerator in last year’s Triple Crown races, but did not ride in last year’s Louisiana Derby won by Gun Runner. Desormeaux will ride Sorry Erik in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. Keith Desormeaux claimed Sorry Erik for just $20,000 in early January from a race in Santa Anita.
“To have a claiming horse for that little that potentially can run a big race in a million dollar pre Derby prep (race) is borderline incredible,” Keith said. “It’s been a nice windfall for us.”
Sorry Erik has since won an allowance event. He finished seventh in February in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
“We feel like we’re ahead of the game,” Keith said. “Most people can’t say that with their 3-year old. There’s no pressure on us. We’re a long shot and we understand that. This is fun and we are hoping for the best.”
Keith says about Kent. “There’s not a nervous bone in his body.”
Kent has shown that throughout his career. He’s won three Kentucky Derby’s, one Belmont Stakes and three Preakness Stakes including last year’s win aboard Exaggerator. Kent holds the U.S. record for most races won in a single year with 598 wins in 1989 and doesn’t plan to stop riding until he surpasses New Iberia native Eddie Delahouussaye as the state’s all-time winningest jockey. He has about 400 more victories to reach that goal, which would take him another four years.
“My mission every day is to win a race,” Kent ssaid. “I wake up every day wanting to win because people like winning. If you’re not winning in this game, you’re not too useful. By the time I leave the starting gate (on Saturday), I will have figured out a way to try to win and hopefully that plan comes to fruition.”
The Desormeaux brothers now live in California. But they still look forward to returning to Louisiana even if it’s with a long shot.
“We are just going to do our best,” Keith said. “We get to come home and we get to swing for a million dollars.”