Desormeaux enters alcohol rehab program, will ride in Belmont

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who is scheduled to ride Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 11, is currently undergoing an alcohol rehabilitation program in Utah, according to a statement released by Santa Anita publicity.

Desormeaux, 46, made the announcement Saturday through his agent, J.R. Pegram.

“It was time to take a sober look at my life and take this step,” Desormeaux said in the statement.

The statement indicated that Desormeaux sought counseling at Cirque Lodge in Sundance, Utah. The organization’s website said that it aids people with drug and alcohol dependencies.

Desormeaux is scheduled to resume riding at Belmont Park on Thursday. He has not ridden since Monday, when he rode Blue Tone to a 12th-place finish in the Grade 3 All American Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Desormeaux last rode at Santa Anita on May 29.

In an interview, Pegram said that Desormeaux traveled to Cirque Lodge last Tuesday and will remain there until Monday, when he travels to New York. While in New York, Desormeaux will be accompanied by a “faculty member” from Cirque Lodge and will continue outpatient counseling, Pegram said.

Desormeaux intends to resume riding at Santa Anita on June 16, Pegram said, but will continue counseling on an outpatient basis.

“They’ll monitor him for the next several weeks,” Pegram said.

Last summer, Desormeaux was fined $2,500 by track stewards for being under the influence of alcohol during a race program at Del Mar in July. Desormeaux later received a stay of the fine by the California Horse Racing Board, allowing him to appeal the penalty.

Desormeaux was suspended 30 days for the infraction, but the suspension was not enacted as long as the Hall of Fame rider did not have an alcohol-related infraction through the term of his current license on Feb. 2, 2018.

Stewards Scott Chaney and Kim Sawyer said on Saturday that Desormeaux later paid the fine. Chaney said Desormeaux’s current counseling is not a violation of the 2015 infraction since the rider has not faced sanction from a horse-racing regulatory body or law enforcement agency for an alcohol-related infraction.

Sawyer said that Desormeaux has been subjected to breath tests each day he has ridden in Southern California since last summer and has passed each test. The tests are conducted by California Horse Racing Board investigators.

Desormeaux, 44, has had alcohol-related troubled in the past. He failed a breath test at Woodbine in 2010 and again at Belmont Park in May 2012. As a result of the failed test at Belmont Park, Desormeaux was taken off Tiger Walk for the Preakness Stakes, run the following day.

Desormeaux has won 13 riding titles at Southern California tracks.

Tom Franklin is a senior contributor at US Racing.
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