Jockey Kent Desormeaux Warned Following Workout Whip Usage

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, 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.”

Apprentice Rosie Higgins Wins First Race

It took only her fourth mount for apprentice Rosie Higgins to break her maiden, and it happened in the second race at Santa Anita Park yesterday while riding Blue Law. She trailed Gavination at the far turn, but was able to take the lead turning for home on her way to an eventual three lengths win. The five-furlong race was completed in a winning time of 1:04.46 by Blue Law.

“It was awesome,” said Higgins. “I was a little worried there for a moment, I just didn’t want (Gavination) to close the door, but we were able to get through. I just said ‘Come on sweetie,’ and we got through just fine. Hopefully, it helps my career a little bit. I understand that I’m new. I know I’m still green and I know how trainers feel, because I’ve been in their position. Hopefully, it helps and I keep moving up.”

Blue Law, trained by Bob Hess Jr., was the pre-race favorite at money line odds of 6-5 in the eight horse race, which brought with it a $20,000 claiming tag.

“This was her third time riding for me,” said Hess. “She’s very patient and is very mindful of doing things right—of doing what is right by the horse. She’s got great balance and she’s totally into what she’s doing. This is great.”

Higgins must stick with apprentice tag for at least one year from the day of her fifth winner or when she wins race number 40; whichever one comes first.