Kent Desormeaux will add another notch to his Hall of Fame holster Friday albeit it a relatively minor one when he pilots Ashleyluvssugar in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on grass.
In his 33rd year as a jockey, it will mark the first time ever on the classy and consistent eight-year-old California-bred gelding. Desormeaux has never even worked the horse.
Not to worry, says trainer Peter Eurton, who in Ashleyluvssugar's last 17 starts has given a leg up on the bay son of Game Plan to Tyler Baze, Gary Stevens, Joel Rosario and Flavien Prat.
But with Baze now riding at Oaklawn Park, Stevens retired, and Prat and Rosario fulfilling commitments in Dubai along with fellow Santa Anita-based riders Mike Smith and Joe Talamo, Eurton was contacted by Desormeaux's agent Mike Ciani and gave him the call.
On paper, it seems the Louisiana native, who still holds the world record for most wins in one year, an incredible 598 in 1989, could be on the lead in the marathon race, although Ashleyluvssugar has won from a stalking position.
“I don't think he has to be on the lead, but you just have to see how it unfolds,” said Eurton, himself a former rider until weight issues evolved. “That's the good thing about having the outside post (six of six) . . . Kent knows how to ride, so I'm not going to tell him a whole lot.
“It's a mile and a half. He knows it's not a gate-to-wire race, but if they hand him the lead, and he has to take it, he has to take it. What are you going to do?
“The other jocks who have ridden him are not available, but we're still left with a pretty good rider in Kent Desormeaux and I'm happy with that.”
In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby three times, Desormeaux's 6003 career wins in North America from 31,668 mounts (19 percent) rank him 19th all-time and fifth among active riders. His mounts have earned $283,672,492. While Eurton plays musical riders with Asheyluvssugar, who captured the San Luis Rey in 2015, the old boy has more than earned his keep winning 10 of 31 career starts.
His career earnings of $1,431,039 are more than his five San Luis Rey rivals combined by $373,205.
The San Luis Rey, race seven of eight with a 1 p.m. first post time: Epical, Tyler Baze, 2-1; Risky Proposition, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1; Unapologetic, Geovanni Franco, 8-1; Beach View, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Marckie's Water, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; and Ashleyluvssugar, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2.
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