Desormeaux: ‘I Believe They Can Make The Wire Where They Want’

by | 12.13.2016 | 3:07pm
Kent Desormeaux

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux is skeptical about the validity of horse racing's photo finish systems. According to, Desormeaux expressed his doubts at the annual assembly of the Jockeys' Guild in Las Vegas Monday, following a presentation on integrity issues.

“I don't believe in the validity of the photo finish system, not at all as a matter of fact,” said Desormeaux. “I believe they can make the wire where they want. When we're going 40 miles per hour, you can change the finish by a centimeter and show that the horse's nose is on the line or isn't on the line.”

The current photo finish system features a camera placed at the wire that takes 1,000 to 2,000 images per second, capturing each horse as it reaches the wire.

“The (Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau) has not seen one instance—not one instance—in which there has been evidence a fraudulent photo finish has been perpetrated,” said Curtis Linnell, the TRPB's executive vice president of wagering analysis and operations.


  • A penny for your thoughts

    Ah yes, how soon we forget the Kent stories / issues from his past years

  • Bubba

    I have to agree with Kent. The TRPB doesn’t have to be defensive but proactive on the situation. I know how much digital photography advances every year. Is there a standard set up and protocol for photo finishes at all tracks? How about they look in to it and come up with a standard. It would be nice for every track to show a true photo view while the stewards are examining it. A lot of tracks have finish line cameras for simulcasting that I know is not used for the “photo” but some of these make the finish look a half length different because of the poor angle. If there is was an industry “fool proof” standard of equipment and setup then it would become a non issue. But as it is now with every track a different set up, it leaves some doubt.

    • Hamish

      Seems every digital image can be photo-shopped or cropped. Could this be the case with the technology being used by the tracks at the finish line? If so, then it would just be a matter of who the “they” is that Kent mentions?

    • C Hogan

      I agree with Kent.

    • I suggest that you read the BH article, where the photo finish camera is explained. As someone who actually uses Photoshop regularly, you would have to move the horses, not the finish line in the photo.

  • Larry Ensor

    Seems to me it shouldn’t be too difficult nor expensive to come up with, “MacGyver” a tracking, sensor, what ever that attaches to the horses bridle or somewhere on them that triggers a finish position receiver at the finish line? After all there is a fair amount of money waiting at the finish line. For the winning connections and bettors.

    • Arrogate

      Unless it is on their longest nose hair that won’t work if it is about who has the head bob.

  • gus stewart

    Omg lmao,, im crying this is so funny, i dont know the accuracy of his statement and if this is possible,,, but kent,,lmao again the jock that been said to not ride a horse out to the finish. Well finally we now know why, he may see a differnt finish line then anyone else!!

    • Flintstone

      He should stay Real Quiet.

      • redo

        He gave Real Quiet a perfect ride.

        • Tinky

          You should name your next horse “Comic Relief”.

        • Flintstone

          It was his foolish bravado taking on the cheap speed going INTO the far turn that lost the race.

          • lastromantibune

            just maybe Gary Stevens was a better rider…… think ?

  • Arrogate

    Them Cajuns are entertaining….

  • larry

    l believe Real Quiet won to this day. l believe they use the inquiry sign to fix the outcome too.

  • Peter Scarnati

    Mr. Desormeaux has done a spectacularly fabulous job of demonstrating his utter lack of any knowledge of the photo finish system employed at racetracks today.
    While he is quick to point out his vast experience of competing in over 30,000 races, I’m afraid he was not so nimble in pointing out his complete lack of experience in actually examining a photo produced in real-time as dozens of placing judges do throughout this industry on a daily basis.
    I fail to see any correlation between riding races and understanding how a photo finish camera operates. His own words would seem to point out his obvious foibles in this area: how can passing a finish line “at 40 miles per hour” possibly be more reliable in determining a finish position than a freeze frame of the position of the horses at the wire?



    • Dadnatron

      He likely feels like he was inaccurately placed during his career, and feels that his knowledge of the race trumps the photo.

  • Guest

    Do they fix those Breathalyzer tests also Kent?

    • gus stewart

      I didnt want to go there, thats not something that i see as funny. But he would be well advised to consult someone before he gets his comments in print, or on a tv interview. Amazing the person that did article, would not say, do u really want to say this. Maybe they did.

      • tony a

        Wait a second, you comment quite often maybe a bit of hypocrisy?

        • gus stewart

          Only when it feels right tony a. Aleays happy to stand corrected have i missed something about this topic. Its so ridicoulous to me and i really do feel badly he made the comment.

          • tony a

            Probably how I feel when people believe climate change is our biggest risk.

    • Tres Abagados Stupidos


    • Mike Oliveto

      Ahahahahahahaha!!! LAMO!!!

  • Shasta Sam

    Kent talking about this subject is about as credible as Trump talking about computer hacking (it is well known that he has never used a computer other than a smartphone to tweet). That said, I have only seen one photo finish picture that was judged incorrectly. That was “Longden’s last ride” aboard George Royal in the San Juan Capistrano. The photo showed Plaque clearly won but they gave it to Longden and George Royal.

    • I’m watching

      ” You never know who’s running those photo finish cameras.
      it could be Russia, it could be China, it could be a 600 lb fat guy on a bed”.

      • Mike Oliveto

        Jina…not China…

    • Lawrence R

      I was there ,one of over 60,000, and on the wire.I wagered on the grey {Ohare or O’hara} who ran a not too close 3RD and called George Royal the clear ,no doubt about it ,winner. Longdens body was well ahead of Usserys and Royal had his head down.Plaque had his head up.The cheering crowd went crazy and when they arrived at the winners circle the roaring simply increased.Longdens cap was the first to go followed by his wig right into the crowd I will never forget that race. They did give Longden a race earlier on the day. Hartack pulled his horse 3 x allowing Longden to go out a winner on some horse at 3/5. Go find the photo on the internet I forget the site but I saw it recently. It was not that close maybe 6 inches.Betting on photo finishes used to be an easy way to occasionally pick up
      a few bucks or save a bet so I watched them closely .

      • McGov

        And that’s why I love this site. Thank you for sharing.

      • Shasta Sam

        We can agree to disagree on the photo finish. But I bet we both agree that was a golden age of racing. Great horses, great races, great jockeys, great trainers. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Longden won that photo or when Shoe rode Patchy Groundfog in his last ride.

        • Lawrence R

          I Agree. The great thing was the crowd with losers celebrating along with the winners and just as loud. They were cheering Longden who at that time was a legend well past his prime and who could hardly walk ,not the horse. I have to correct myself. It was Tom Cat the grey with Hartack up who I wagered on in that race and finished 3rd. O’hara was a big stakes horses who shipped in from the east with the King Ranch horses and Buddy Hirsch. Probably the same year he brought out Gallant Bloom.
          What can you say about Shoe ? Crushed his femur , on crutches for a year comes back and wins 3 races first day back and I don’t know how many more and another Derby. The Man was I giant and fun to be. around.

      • Bookies in England used to take bets on the margins of photo finishes. I remember once betting an even-money shot to win a maiden race at Newmarket. I got 7 to 5 on the margin, which I correctly estimated to be a neck and earned more on the margin than picking the winner in a large field of perhaps 16 runners. Crazy!

        • Lawrence R

          It’s a crazy game isn”t it ? I’m an ex subscriber to one of one of your former enterprises in L.A. and am looking forward to reading your book.

    • tony a

      Or Hillary talking about right wing conspiracies!

  • really?

    I have been in the photo finish room dozens of times, watched the system being set up and tested, seen the digital capture and placing of the horses.
    Of all the arenas subject to tampering, this would be the least likely imo.
    Drugging of horses, jocks drinking, jocks drugging, jocks holding favorites, these are the things I have seen that happen all too often and perhaps KD should bring this up the next time he speaks in public about integrity.

    • Lawrence R

      How about those asst. starters?

  • JoeJoe

    Kent, let people think you are dumb. Don’t open your mouth and prove them right.

  • JustJoe

    Breathalyzers, photo finish cameras, is there any technology that Kent has confidence in using?

    • I’m watching

      Yes, the moonshine stills in NC and Va

  • sally blue

    I was a placing judge at Gulfstream and he got beat a half of nose on the turf, he proceeded back, saw the numbers on the board and he looked up and gave us the middle finger salute. It was a Zayat horse and his agent at the time, plus Zayat’s son demanded to see the photo. Bottom line the camera doesn’t lie. Agent “Mike the cop” said “my jockey is in the hall of fame and if he said he won, he won” Again the camera doesn’t lie.

    • Zanytactics

      Sounds like an interesting story. Why isn’t the actual wire show in the photo finish image??
      We see the horses but never the actual wire.

      • PntGvn

        Because there is no actual wire. It’s an invisible photoelectric beam with which the photo finish camera (which is fixed in place on immovable mounts on the ceiling and floor of the judges stand) is precisely aligned. The camera takes 2000+ frames per second of that exact point. The resulting image is a composite of each horse as it passes that point. The judges can “move” the digital image of the wire on the screen, however, when they do that, they are actually moving it through time, not space (this is how the same photo can be used for “win” or “show”… It’s displaying every nose as it hits the “wire”). It is not possible for the judges (with the equipment and software in the stand) to alter the positions of the horses relative to each other. Mr. Desormeaux could not be more off base with his comments.

        • reinsman

          And I believe the line is already “drawn” digitally and electronically, it can only move from right to left, the entire line, so there is no “angle” of the finish line possibility the way the cameras are setup. Sure you might be able to take a quick screen grab of a photo without the line and draw your own and shift it ever so slightly to give the inside or outside horse a slight unnoticeable advantage, but that’s stretching the bounds of reality and collusion. Kent is, has been, and always will be a complete moron – which is sad because I really want to like the guy.

          • race

            Moron, yes–Ever since the Big Brown fiasco I can’t even think of betting him — he’s in his own bubble–now, he’s proved me right without a doubt

          • Tinky

            While KD deserves the lashing he is receiving on this particular topic, anyone who believes that he was responsible for Big Brown’s Belmont performance doesn’t have a clue. He couldn’t have placed in that race – let alone won – with Lester Piggot or Willie Shoemaker aboard.

          • What was with that? I still don’t know why he pulled the horse up. I’ve heard plenty of stories, though. From keeping him from breaking down to taking a dive because he was in to some bad guys. Sounds like one of those old movies, doesn’t it?

          • Hamish

            Huge negative show pool in that race with BB.

          • Frank Hyman

            There actually wasn`t a huge show betting amount on Big Brown.The winner Da` Tara paid $79.00 to win and $14.80 to show,The 2nd place horse paid $4.10 and there was a deadheat for 3rd with the horses paying $7.60 and $6.20.

          • Mr J

            Way to call Hamish out for lying

          • Just a theory on my part, but I think he realized he didn’t have enough horse to win, and rather than have a low placing, he pulled him up and said it was because he was concerned for his mount. Probably didn’t want to be blamed for losing another Triple Crown.

          • Lawrence R

            What an absolute,nonsensical theory. By the way who blames him for losing a triple crown? Use facts to dream up theories . Four facts to consider, #1 Durrow had him pumped up with steroids,Fact # 2 He was running with a major Quarter crack, Fact # 3 he managed to twist one of the rear shoes sometime during the race.Fact #4 Big Brown came back to win major races
            after the Belmont .If I was the trainer or owner, as disappointing as the race was, I would have been grateful to Desormeaux for not going on and ruining the horse. Ever hear of Majestic Prince? As to his comments on the finish line , Kent is a crazy Cajun, just ask him. No offense to the rest of the crazy Cajuns out there

          • longtimehorsewoman

            I agree. Steroids were nor allowed in NY then and Big Brown had to run without them. I believe Kent had no horse as Laura said.

          • togahombre

            his steroid of choice, winstrol, was still allowed in ny at this time

          • lastromantibune

            taking a dive because he was in to some bad guys. ….come on…no way he did that….he was drunk most likely and screwed up. though I have to say he is riding top shelf since he got on the wagon….hope he stays there……….

          • I just remember what the owner said afterward on national television. About people threatening them. I didn’t say I believed it, but I do remember him saying it.

          • Mike Oliveto

            I agree with everything you said…with the exception of wanting to like the guy…

        • I believe offfical line cameras are black and white? Full color high resolution at 2000Fps is just not there yet. Having said that when you see a full color finish line photo it’s from one of the axillary cameras?

          • PntGvn

            Good question. Any image I’ve ever had to work with has been in color and, if a photo needs to be posted for patrons, it’s the same image that the judges use to make their placing determinations. The image appears on the judges computer monitor in real-time as the camera operator holds the shutter button. Perhaps it gets colorized by the computer software, but I think it’s the difference between high-speed video and high-speed stills that you’re referring to maybe. I know we don’t have 2000 fps color video capability yet, but these images aren’t video — they are thousands of stills, taken of the exact same point, knit together sequentially to form one big image.

          • The ones I have been around are hi speed video, when you you step through the frames to slide the time back and forth it advances or recedes in frames.

            What I am getting at is the pictures seen by most may not be from from the finish line camera. For certain the win pictures are not typically from that camera, I have only seen one or two win pictures that have the time time index at the bottom. So having said that I feel comfortable saying that if it does not have the time index on the picture it’s not from the official camera?

          • PntGvn

            Honestly, not sure; I’ve only used the still-shot equipment…never actually seen a motion picture camera set up for that purpose.

          • sally bkue

            You are so wrong. The photo comes out in full color on a computer..Yes, you can roll the line but it doesn’t change the pics of the horses.finishing.. you conspiracy people need to wake up

          • I agree with the latter portion
            My question was a question no inference to a conspiracy. As I said the ones I have seen are BW with a high speed digital Cam
            just saying that alot of pictures that start floating around May not be at the line or correct angle. Not specifically directed to any particular race or rider.

        • Zanytactics

          LOL, there is no actual wire?? Have you ever been to a race track??

          • PntGvn

            This may come as a shock to you, but there is also no yellow first-down line on a football field.

          • Zanytactics

            I hate to say this, but you’re a condescending moron.

          • redo

            What about the gate?

          • Zanytactics

            The one up your ARS?

    • McGov

      Awesome story. Thanks for sharing!

      • Mr J

        If it was true,which I doubt

    • GSK

      B.S. to YOU!!!

      • Sally Bkue

        Were you there?

      • Mr J


    • Mike Oliveto

      The fact that he gave the middle finger says it all about this jackass. He’s been a whiny beotch his entire career. No different now.

    • Judy Gaddis

      Not surprised at this reaction by him or his agent but a little surprised at the one by Mr. Zayat’s son.

      I remember Desormeaux when he was just starting out and he was a “nice kid”. But the minute he started getting good mounts and winning some stakes races he became quite arrogant and rude (especially to fans) and brought that attitude west with him. Guess he took it south as well………………

      • Larry Sterne

        Many jocks and racecare drivers are premadonas(sp). Just have to discount a lot of what they say and let them live in their own make believe world

        • Judy Gaddis

          Yes they certainly are, as well as many professional athletes period

          My complaint with that IS (as I would dearly LOVE to tell Mr. Desormeaux) without the fans they would be n-o-t-h-i-n-g and I sincerely hope the day comes when they dearly WISH someone would recognize and remember them to even want something as simple as an autograph!

    • Wildbill

      Don’t blame Kent I’d give you the middle finger salute as well. I bet the placing judge is just as messed up as the Stewart’s are

  • gus stewart

    It scary reading comments that agree with kent. Now we know why media news and internet information that is 99 percent speculation over fact, still has a viewership base. Hold on, i just saw a ufo flying over the white house with a trump logo on it!!!!! Turn on your favorite nerws channel for the latest update. Priceless

    • Fake news and ignoring facts has sadly become the norm.

      • gus stewart

        Just launching and starting a biz that needs to branded as different then our competition, i have told my partners if we dont spin it and reel in the attention of the masses by putting something our there so ridicoulous, we will never get the attention needed to compete.thats why this topic got so much activity. As u said its the world we now live in.

  • I’m watching

    He’s at it again. Somebody, please take the bottle away from him.

    • JoeJoe

      Plus he never ever tips his valet.

      • Joey Whitford

        Can’t believe I am defending this goof. But I do know a valet of his in Ky and Kent has treated him very well in the past

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Is Kent D sour grapes about something?
    I can’t say I have seen all his races these past few years, but I have seen some of them.
    I don’t recall him ever getting the short end of the stick.
    So what gives?

  • Audrey Gulla

    I wonder if he realizes how childish he sounds?

  • GSK

    YOU “peep’s” are all SICK,..and just what do any of YOU know about being on Horseback, or that of the “photo finish” personnel employed at any N. Amn. Racetrack??? I can name one who in past years was “fired” for having rigged a “photo finish!!!”

    • really?

      name him.
      or be quiet

  • Judoon

    If he thinks so much cheating is going on, why has it taken him so long to speak up about this supposed photo-finish rigging? Smh, he sounds like a real baby.

  • Steve Kintz

    My old friend always called him ” Brain Dead Kent ” . That sure was my first thought when I read this !

  • Southwest Dude

    If he is that stupid, I wouldnt want him on my horse.

  • Leonard

    This assessment that is being given by someone who has & alcohol issue & being in VEGAS when he made these comments makes one wonder what he was doing before he made this outrageous comment. The source for this comment is unreliable & don’t know how they allow him to ride anymore. Chalk up another black eye for racing.

    • Lawrence R

      What sacred law did he break? Giving his opinion? I think it was a stupid statement and sour grapes so who cares except the Desx. haters and the disgruntled losers. Get over it.


    Kent should stick with race riding, as he obviously is clueless with how photos are examined. First, people have been saying this for 75 years as stewards do not “order a print” in 90 percent of all cases. Digital photography has nothing to do with horse racing photos. Second, in the last ten years stewards can now look at instant replay as well as photos to determine the winner. Could it be done? Yes. But not easily with the availability of instant video and You Tube. This statement is idiotic.


      I failed to mention that the placing judge and the stewards look at the negative simultaneously – so they would all have to be in on it.

  • Mike Oliveto

    Considering that he’s the poster child for standing up in the irons before the race is over I’d say he’s the one guilty of “making the wire anywhere he wants”. Every time he opens his mouth he makes an imbecile out of himself. He’s an utter clown.

  • Black Stalin

    Technology exists that would disprove every dead heat. Actual dead heats are as rare as lightning striking the same place twice when measured on a micro scale. Not sure about them being able to move the wire though.

  • Molly Julia

    Photo Finish Takes Too Long – 2020 Coming Soon? Technology Is There No One Using It?

  • David Worley

    Signs of the times folks. America in 2016 is an ‘anything goes’ world of my “facts” are as good as your facts regardless of expertise.

  • mongo98

    All system’s have “bugs” in them, yes all system’s are flawed. Racing has a history of never admitting their mistakes. So, Desormeaux’s claim likely has merit, although not to the degree he thinks.

  • California Flash

    Betting this guy is like dating a stripper. Best times of your life, and the worst.

  • Saratoga Bob

    Kent Desormeaux is one of the greatest riders of all time lets trust his input we must keep the integrity of the game at its highest standards We must remember how some people were able to hack into the computer system and print out winning tickets after the races were over .Challenge the establishment to keep the game honest Drugs are so prevalent in this game we don’t need to add anymore problems to create distrust from bettors .

    • JustJoe

      Just to clarify, it wasn’t hacking. It was an inside job by a company programmer. The current photo finish technology is fine.

      Kent should do his part and stay sober.

      • And shut his mouth. He isn’t doing himself any favors spouting off like he does.

      • Saratoga Bob

        Let’s not rush to assume Kent has broken his sobriety He is always trying to improve himself and now testing the Establishment is great for handicappers and bettors .Corrective critisisem should always be openly discussed .Racings Photo Finish Technology is antiquated And needs to be improved at most tracks in America.Remember When hackers were able to print tickets after post and raided our betting pools .Never stop making improvements to the racing technology .

        • JustJoe

          Antiquated? Most tracks use dual high speed HD cameras. Call American Teletimer and talk to Joel, he will set you straight.

          By the way, I have been going to the track for 40 years and ran several.

  • Al Milano

    I stopped listening to this guy following the bonehead ride he gave Real Quiet in the Belmont. Too wide and too early a move on the best horse in the race. Maybe he thought they stole that race from him at the wire. NOT.

  • Michael Beauregard

    I met Kent at the Spa stand up guy he might be on to something.

  • jim w

    whether or not Desormeaux is a jackass or not, the point he made is valid.
    I have seen myself at smaller tracks very very odd looking photos where the
    wire looks to be at an angle in order to give a horse a nose win. i am NOT a
    conspiracy theorist, i see what i see an make a decision on that basis.
    and trust me i have seen in the past horses put up i,d have bet my house that
    they were beat. and i have good eyes. don,t let your hate for Desormeaux cloud
    your vision.

  • Mr J

    Ive wondered about this for 30 yrs

  • lastromantibune

    nah…your crazy KENT

  • lastromantibune

    RIDES LIKE THE DEVIL…but just showed the stereotype of a pinhead

  • Michael Castellano

    Americans seem to love conspiracy theories, no matter how silly and stupid some of them are. Like the World Trade Center being dynamited by some secret cabal on 9/11. Or FDR repressing intelligence for Kimmel on December 7, 1941. Or that a plane never hit the Pentagon, it was instead a rocket.

  • Hye Dragon

    That’s Why They Call Them PIN HEADS…

  • Steelefantasy

    Desormeaux never rides his mounts thru to the wire anyhow so maybe that’s his excuse! If he can’t win I hope you don’t need this clown 2nd or 3rd on your ticket cause he always stops riding 40 yards from the wire. Take a look at how many times he has stood up in the irons well before the finish line if he can’t win

  • tony a

    Seriously, why would everyone think this is not at the very least plausible? They pick and choose who to take down on inquiries and claim shakes always seem to find a couple particular owners.

  • J. Nasium

    The system is rigged…??? Now from what imbecile have I heard that before!

  • Will Styles

    I like Kent and Rosie. They have always treated me great on the backside. He’s a hall of fame rider and he earned his right to his opinion. It speaks volumes when a rider of his tenure feels the photo finish can be altered. Even those here that don’t agree with his opinion. Need to ask them what have they offered the sport. If your not riding, wagering or training. Your opinion means virtually nothing to me. Track officials in my eyes are all corrupt. I saw it first hand with Paige’s prize years ago.

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