Count of Amazonia gave Kent Desormeaux a hat trick at Santa Anita on Saturday (Benoit Photo)
Santa Anita Stable Notes By Victor Ryan
ARCADIA, Calif.— 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 Derby’s, 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 classin 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.
“It’s very invigorating, certainly a head picker-upper to have a day like that,” Desormeaux said Sunday morning from Clocker’s Corner. “On Friday, I had some indifferent rides and was a little upset. I went home Friday night banging my head.”
Earlier on Friday, Santa Anita stewards ruled Desormeaux, who has a history of alcohol-related problems, would be required to pass a daily breathalyzer test to ride in races or work horses. The ruling was in response to Desormeaux failing a breathalyzer test on March 31 prior to the first race.
“To have a day like Saturday, it energizes you,” Desormeaux said. “It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
Since his induction into the Hall of Fame, Desormeaux has added two more Kentucky Derby wins and three more Preakness victories. Entering Sunday’s card at Santa Anita, he ranks seventh all-time in career purse earnings with $292,806,090 and 16th in wins with 6,148.
Saturday’s wins came in the opener on turf with favorite Luminiferous ($5.00) for trainer George Papaprodromou, the eighth race on dirt by a nose with favorite Sunshine Babe ($5.80) for trainer Marcelo Polanco and the ninth race on the hillside turf course by a neck with Count Of Amazonia (IRE) ($11.00) for trainer Bob Hess Jr.
Desormeaux said he heard from numerous well-wishers after Saturday’s hat trick.
“The text messages came in plenty,” he noted. “You just hope people notice that when you’re mounted, you’re still capable.”
Desormeaux now has 13 wins at the Hollywood Meet to rank sixth in the jockey standings. During the Classic Meet ended April 9, Desormeaux ranked 11th in the standings with 15 wins from 87 mounts, a 17 percent strike rate.
“I think it’s been a real good winter and spring here at Santa Anita,” Desormeaux said. “I’ve landed some new barns I’d never ridden for. I credit my agent Susan McBrayer for that. She’s done a wonderful job. The results have been solid.”
When the Santa Anita Hollywood Meet closes next Sunday, Southern California racing shifts to Los Alamitos for a three-week stand. Desormeaux plans to ride there only if the right opportunities arise.
“I would love to ride any important horse. It doesn’t have to be a stakes horse,” Desormeaux said. “But generally, the horses that run there don’t run at Del Mar. I like to freshen up ahead of Del Mar. It’s a very intense meet.
He added the first order of business when Santa Anita closes is to visit his mother in Louisiana. Last month on April 22, Desormeaux’s father, Harris Desormeaux, died at the age of 80.
“It’s a good time for me to go visit my mother,” Desormeaux said. “Last month I lost my father, so I’m going to go keep her company for a week and then come back to tune-up for Del Mar.”