Hess on Desormeaux: ‘Not a mean bone in his body’

by | 09.01.2011 | 9:59am

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in racing who knows Kent Desormeaux better than trainer Bob Hess Jr., who has been friends with the Hall of Fame rider for many years and has roomed with Desormeaux in Florida and New York for much of 2011.

Hess, who left Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Wednesday night to check on his stable of horses in California, was shocked when he got the news upon his arrival that Desormeaux had been arrested for “reckless endangerment” after city police reportedly said he intentionally tried to hit a New York Racing Association security guard with the 2003 Porsche Carrera he was driving.

“There is not an ounce of meanness in Kent,” Hess told the Paulick Report Thursday morning. “He's like the class clown, a 16-year-old kid in a 41-year-old body. From what I've been told, he was goofing around. This has to be a misunderstanding.”

Hess, getting second-hand information from his Saratoga-based assistant, said Desormeaux was inching his car behind the security guard as a joke, but she was caught off guard. “She started crying, and Kent apologized,” Hess said. “The next thing he knows, he's in handcuffs.”

David Grening, reporting in Daily Racing Form, said Desormeaux told him he was “just playing around” when he drove the car within inches of the guard, but didn't hit her. “I was trying to be cute,” the Form quoted Desormeaux as saying.

The Albany Times-Union said Desormeaux posted $500 bail after being charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. The newspaper said a court date is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday. The incident occurred at 6:26 p.m., near an exit from the track following Wednesday's races. Desormeaux rode in the seventh and 10th races, finishing off the board with both mounts.

“I've known Kent a long time,” said Hess, “He's like my little brother. And I'll tell you what. He's happier than he's been in eons, and he's having a really good meet. He's in my barn every morning at 6:30, raking the shedrow, getting up on horses, working his ass off. He's doing really well. He came to the paddock in street clothes when I had a horse in the second race yesterday.

“Trust me when I say there's not a mean bone in his body. Does he do some dumb things? Sure, but again, he's like a kid. He's like the class clown.”

Desormeaux reportedly was in the stable area at Saratoga Thursday morning and was named on two mounts for the afternoon program, including one for Hess, Weekend Wish, a 2-year-old filly who Hess said was being scratched because the trainer said she tied up. His remaining mount was for trainer Dale Romans aboard Dullahan in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes.

The Louisiana native, a three-time Eclipse Award winner who was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2004, currently ranks ninth in the Saratoga jockey standings, with 13 wins from 52 mounts.

  • I believe the quotes were made by SoCal trainer Bob Hess jr. as opposed to his training father by the same name.

    2011 has not been a good year for jockeys around the country. A little introspection may be required before one of them makes news – once again.

  • Snak Jak McJojo

    I’ll wager that the rate in which jockeys find themselves in “trouble” mirrors that of society. Let him have his day in court,takes his lumps, if any, and get on with our lives.

  • TouchOfGrey

    Maybe it’s time for Kent to start acting more like a 41-year-old man as opposed to a 16-year-old kid. Just a thought.

  • sportsguy

    That security guard should be filling out job applications at Target over at the mall today.

  • Michael J. Arndt

    Travers Day, my 3yo grandson Max was on the infield big screen at Saratoga in a close-up because he was on my shoulders wearing the jockey goggles Desormeaux had given him the day before. He made a race fan for life with that gesture and we have pictures that we will always treasure. I hope someday the good things he does are publicized as much as this sort of hijinks. I know he is exceedingly active in promoting charities including the Disabled Jockeys Fund, in fact the evening before he had been doing a benefit in town. I am inclined to believe Bob Hess Jr, on this.

  • Jordan Roberts

    Unless you know the man personally, its very easy to commend him for his “positive” efforts. Those who have been around him for the length of his riding career know he is a great jockey. That is NOT indicative of who he is as a person. If he is in the barn early every morning, why is he called Sleepy????

  • Badge Of Silver

    The old saying goes…”You can’t fix stupid”

  • pragmatist

    # 7,

    Are you talking about Hess or Desormeaux ?

  • Eppy Barney

    I’m certain that Mr. Desormeaux and the complainant will be able to agree on an out of court “$ettlement”.

  • Badge Of Silver

    If Kent was half as smart as he thought he was he would be a genius.

  • brenda

    thanks bob hess jr for coming to desormeaux defense..this is silly stuff kent is a great guy!

  • robbins

    Who thinks pretending to hit someone with their car is ‘playing around?’ Or is that the defense of his childlike behavior? If my child did that at age 16 or 41, I’m certain I wouldn’t think it was silly…What a joke… Stop enabling him! How much more negative publicity can a man have in one year before people stop making excuses for his behavior?

  • cmt

    An owner flew him from CA. to breeze their horse for the race of a lifetime (Gr. I Kentucky Derby) and he overslept and missed the workout. Kent was pulled off of Bill Mott’s horse in Canada because he was intoxicated. Countless infractions for not riding his mounts out to the wire. What is this guys problem?

  • Erick Weiss

    #2, your post is laughable. I bet you the rate of Jockey “trouble” vs. that of the general population is somewhere about 10000X more. Breathalyzers in the Paddock?? That is like a Breathalyzer at the door to your office or factory.

  • MoJoe

    Mott not using him first call anymore. I think his antics, alcohol and idiocy makes trainers not want to deal with him anymore.

  • I’ve know Bob Hess personally for years and I assure you he is the most honest man I’ve met in this sport. If he says ‘Meaux was joking around you can mark that down as the truth. Kent is riding as well as he has in years, and anyone who wants to continue to hold past mistakes against him should take a long look at the man in the mirror. This situation was a joke taken the wrong way and nothing more.

  • goodeb

    except that “meaux” has quite a past of acting irresponsible, showing up late for works and the list goes on. is the fact hes 40 something and acts like a 16 year old supposed to be a good thing?

  • goodeb

    and continues to do so.

  • I assume you have been to work on time every day of your career? I’m sure we could go on and on all night and I will politely decline that but I am in Kent D’s corner because I know this was a joke turned around and nothing more.

  • BOB

    Kent is a great guy and this is much ado about nothing. These hijinks go on all the time at tracks, farms, and barns all over the country everyday.

  • kyracing

    youre right…hes a great guy, jokester, and everyones friend. he shouldnt be held accountable for his actions.

  • delmarjohn

    Pval vs kent d …I’ll take kent,great rider,who has constantly been condemned for far lesser issues than most

  • chd123

    so i guess we should just let all these guys do whatever they want to do then

  • Trappeddownontherail

    Arrested development?

  • Al

    All I want to know from this jock is what were his pre-race instructions that day at the Belmont when the alleged “death threat” was issued aginst IEAH folks if Big Brown was hurt in the race? The ultimate cover up thus far….

  • robbins

    In reference to comment #21…..’He shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions?’ I’ll second an earlier comment “You can’t fix stupid..” That may truly be the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life!!! If we weren’t held accountable for our actions the world would be in utter anarchy… It sad people think the way you do. If you show up late to work once, so be it. Get a DWI once, so be it. Arrested once, so be it.. When you have all of the above among many public drunken displays, cheating, lying, abuse, being fired off mounts, fired by agents, fired by trainers and have to move your tack around the country just to get work…You should finally be held accountable! We all make mistakes, but how many people do we have to harm before we are put in our place? Trying to hit someone with a car is not a joke, any one who thinks so is ridiculously stupid. I guess when he left before his breathalyzer last year in Saratoga, you believe that really was because he felt sick from food poisoning too, right????

  • kyracing

    to robbins and comment 26: there was a HUGE amount of sarcasm interjected into that statement. it was written in regards to all the comments peope were making about him being a great guy and a jokester and everyones friend so why be so hard on him he was just playing a joke. if you read it with the sarcasm i worte it with you would have realized that i am in agreement with pretty much everything you stated in your post.

  • race

    #25–Please elaborate. For my thoughts were (and I was at the Track that day), in the Belmont, there was an opening before the 1st turn that you could drive my truck through, and Sleepy decided not to take advantage, then jerked Brown’s neck–senseless, to this day I’m not sure what happened, your thoughts?–r

  • Lefthanded

    Kent has always been a self absorbed jerk, nothing new here.

  • s/s

    The officer needs to chill out. Kent would never hurt a soul and I believe his story. The officer found a reason to take it to the limit and get a great guy in trouble for something over nothing. I hope she got what she wanted at his expense.

  • Baltimore Gene

    If, as Mr Hess suggests,” Desormeaux doesn’t have a mean bone in his body”, how does he explain, as the ARCI record reflects, no less than 12 Abuse of the Whip violations?

  • Larry Ensor

    From what I understand this has been blown completely out of proportion. And just food for fodder for those who want to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

  • CVP

    Anyone faced the NYRA security at the gate? Although it’s a hostile situation with everyone trying to get out of there, I’ve seen them antagonize the patrons on more than one occasion. Rude patrons, perhaps, but rather than assertively walk over and deal with them one on one, they get into a snit and will collectively berate, antagonize, and then hold everyone else up. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was blown out of proportion by the gang at the gate.

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