As he’s done literally thousands of times throughout his Hall of Fame career, Louisiana-born Kent Desormeaux saved his best for when it counted on Sunday at Santa Anita, overcoming what appeared to be a five length deficit with just a furlong to run in garnering his 6,000th career win aboard the Jim Cassidy-trained X S Gold.
Owned and bred by Cassidy and Deron Pearson’s D P Racing, X S Gold, a 4-year-old California-bred filly by Golden Balls, out of the In Excess mare Some Excess, got a mile on grass in 1:34.72. Off as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10 older fillies and mares, she paid $7.20 to win.
“This filly really makes it hard on herself and hard on Mr. Cassidy,” said the ever-loquacious Desormeaux, who will turn 49 on Feb. 27. “She makes you use both hands when training her and she’s either on or she’s off, and she was spot on today. She had a lot of work to do from the quarter pole and she just got it done in the nick of time today…
“I can humbly say that I’m truly honored and proud of the number 6,000. I can definitely attest that it wasn’t easy to get here, especially these last two months…I also know that I am truly appreciative to everyone who gave me the confidence to take the reins and to assist each and every one of the horsemen I’ve worked for…I thank God for the blessing he gave me and I thank God for all of the fans. God bless you all! Thank you!”
Born in Maurice, Louisiana, Desormeaux broke his maiden at Evangeline Downs on July 13, 1986. Soon thereafter, he shifted his tack to Maryland on a full-time basis, where he became an overnight sensation.
America’s leading rider for 1987 with 450 wins, 295 as an apprentice, Desormeaux was voted Eclipse Champion Jockey, the first of three Eclipse Awards to come his way. Again America’s leading rider in 1988 with 474 victories, he led the country for a third time in 1989, as he amassed a staggering 598 wins—prompting Hollywood Park’s Marjorie Everett to convince him to shift his base of operations to Southern California in 1990.
Although his star-studded resume includes three Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins, a Belmont win, six Breeders’ Cup wins and three Santa Anita Winter Meet Riding titles (1994, 95 & 98), “K.J.” as he’s known to close friends, isn’t done yet.
“I still have goals,” he said. “I can’t wait to wake up every day and try to catch Eddie D. (Delahoussaye, who ranks 15th all-time with 6,383 wins). I’m a very goal oriented person, so I know that I have about 380 more wins to go and I’m not going anywhere until then. Hopefully, in that same time, I can claim two more Kentucky Derby wins to be able to tie the great Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack with five wins each.”
A winner of the 1992 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Desormeaux, who has a pair of grown sons, Joshua and Jacob, is now 17 wins behind eastern-based Johnny Velazquez on America’s all-time list.