Desormeaux takes second Preakness
May 17: Kent Desormeaux wins his second Preakness Stakes and talks about the race from atop Big Brown.
BALTIMORE - A little before boarding Big Brown for the Preakness, Kent Desormeaux doubled back to the jockeys’ room. Realized he had to go grab a piece of missing equipment: his whip.
Turned out, Desormeaux would have been just fine without it on Saturday.
There was no need to push this horse. All Big Brown’s jockey had to do was take a couple of quick looks at the fading pack to see just how large their margin of victory would be.
“I started slowing him down and watching TV — make sure nothing went crazy,” Desormeaux said.
Later, while he was off getting all the pats on the back for his winning ride, Desormeaux’s son Jacob was too distracted to notice his dad’s accolades.
Sitting on a friend’s shoulders, the 9-year-old boy patted his mom on the head and asked a question that had nothing to do with winning the Triple Crown.
“I wish Daddy would buy Big Brown,” Jacob said. “Mom, can we buy Big Brown?”
“No,” said Sonia Desormeaux, laughing. “We can’t afford Big Brown. He’s too expensive.”
Maybe Dad can’t afford the dazzling colt. But Desormeaux is taking Big Brown, family and friends on the Triple Crown ride of a lifetime.
Desormeaux rode Big Brown to a 5¼-length victory at the Preakness, setting up a Triple Crown try at the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
“There are so many hurdles,” Desormeaux said. “I can’t wait to find out what happens.”
“I went right back in the room and found it where it’s supposed to be,” he said.
Greatness again awaits Desormeaux. This time, the jockey wants to finish what he started.
Ten years after a crushing near-miss at racing history, Desormeaux has one more shot at winning the Triple Crown.
The 38-year-old Desormeaux led Big Brown to the Preakness’ winner’s circle only two weeks after he guided the colt to a thrilling 4¾-length victory in the Kentucky Derby.
Up ahead, the Belmont.
Up ahead, the chance to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
Desormeaux called Big Brown the best horse he’s ever ridden, even better than Real Quiet, the colt that nearly ended the Triple Crown drought in 1998.
Desormeaux had so much time he could sneak a peek under his right arm looking for Big Brown’s competition. He never found it down the stretch. Never needed the whip, either. And the race ended the same way as the other four run by the big bay colt:
With a win.
Win the Triple Crown, and an ordinary jockey’s life would never be the same. Desormeaux seems fit to handle all the chaotic changes that come along with grouping your name with such winners like Steve Cauthen or Ron Turcotte.
“When you can win geared down like Kent had him, it’s amazing,” Cauthen, who rode Affirmed, said by telephone from Kentucky. “The thing is, I think somebody said today if he gets boxed in and gets dirt in his face, maybe that would stop him, but he’s proven that doesn’t bother him.”
Desormeaux’s professional disappointments have been a blip compared to the personal hardships in his family.
Jacob was born with Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that stole his hearing at birth and is slowly robbing him of his sight.
Jacob acted like any other boy on this night.
“I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with three beautiful people and a freak of a horse,” Desormeaux said.
Sonia, and sons Jacob and Joshua, watched the race on TV from a suite. It was too difficult to watch the big screen, even with Jacob seemingly perched on someone else’s shoulders the whole time.
“He got to see how (Kent) was pulling away easily,” Sonia Desormeaux said.
Jacob will likely be on some broad shoulders again at the Belmont, where his father experienced perhaps the biggest disappointment of his career.
Desormeaux was in this position before, with Real Quiet in 1998. He rode trainer Bob Baffert’s Real Quiet to nearly a four-length lead at the Belmont, only to have Victory Gallop catch him in the final stride of a sensational stretch run and win the race by a nose.
“It’s very comparable,” Sonia Desormeaux said of 1998 and ’08. “But winning as impressive as he has been, it’s definitely a lot more exciting for all of us.”
The sport still waits for its 12th Triple Crown winner.
Now, Desormeaux is positioned again to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont for the first time in 30 years.
Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom was unable to go out a winner, fading quickly in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday in his last race before retirement.