Kent Desormeaux: “It was time to take a sober look at my life”
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USA: Former US champion jockey Kent Desormeaux is undergoing an unusual preparation for riding the favourite Exaggerator in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes: he has checked into rehab in an effort to deal with long-term alcohol issues.
Louisiana-born Desormeaux, 46, partnered Exaggerator, trained by his brother Keith, to win the Preakness Stakes two weeks ago.
However, the Hall of Fame rider’s career has been dogged by problems with alcohol in recent years. He issued a statement on Saturday through his agent JR Pegram that he had entered an alcohol rehabilitation programme in Utah.
“It was time to take a sober look at my life and take this step,” Desormeaux said in the statement, adding that he had sought counselling at Cirque Lodge, Sundance, Utah.
He is due to return to the saddle at Belmont Park on Thursday.
Speaking to the Daily Racing Form, Pegram explained that Desormeaux had been in rehab since last Tuesday, and would fly to New York on Monday in readiness for the Belmont. Pegram told the Form that the veteran jockey will be accompanied by a “faculty member” from Cirque Lodge and will continue outpatient counselling.
“They’ll monitor him for the next several weeks,” Pegram said.
In a glittering career, Desormeaux was a boy wonder, winning the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice in 1987, and then following up with two more in the senior ranks in 1989 – when he set a national record for most wins in a calendar year with a remarkable 298 successes – and 1992. Steve Cauthen and Chris McCarron are the only other riders to have won both titles.
Desormeaux has ridden 5,745 winners altogether, among them three Kentucky Derbys, three Preakness Stakes and four Breeders’ Cup races.
He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2004 but more recently has struggled with alcohol and he failed breath tests at Woodbine and Belmont in 2010 and 2012. He was fined $2,500 last July by Del Mar stewards for being under the influence during raceday.
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