Keith Desormeaux is the oldest of six children who hail from the well-known Desormeaux racing family. The Louisiana native is the older brother of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey and Hall of Famer, Kent, but has made a name on his own as a trainer and one who is always ready with a top runners, including three in the past four years who, at various points in their careers, were headed toward the Kentucky Derby (GI).
Desormeaux’s father was a bit of a “Jack of All Trades” when the brothers Desormeaux were children and they caught the racing bug when the family patriarch ventured into racing as a potential business project. After three years running a racetrack in Louisiana, the senior Desormeaux left the game, but Keith and Kent remained, both finding tremendous success in their chosen careers.
After serving as assistant to his mentor, trainer Charlie Hadry, Keith Desormeaux has been out on his own since 1991. Desormeaux spent most of his career in the Midwest where most of his 3,700 runners reached the winner’s circle more than 570 times for earnings of more than $17 million, he’s spent the last few winters successfully holding his own among the upper ranks of the Southern California circuit.
And though he has yet to saddle a Kentucky Derby starter, he came close with 2013 Risen Star Stakes (GII) winner Ive Struck a Nerve, who suffered a career-ending sesamoid fracture while preparing for the Louisiana Derby, and 2014’s juvenile champion Texas Red, who was sidelined with foot problems a year ago. He now heads to Louisville with Exaggerator, who has become probably his best chance to enter the Kentucky Derby history books.
Exaggerator was an impressive 6 1/4-length winner of the Santa Anita Derby in his last start and the son of Curlin, who won last year’s Saratoga Special (GII), has finished behind champion Nyquist three times so far in his career, including in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) where he finished third after a somewhat troubled trip. Desormeaux is hopeful to turn the tables on Nyquist for a victory under the Twin Spires on the first Saturday in May.
Exaggerator is a proven off-track specialist with two wins and a second in three attempts on tracks labeled muddy or sloppy, so there’s little doubt Desormeaux will be doing his best rain dance for an off track on Derby Day.