Desormeaux brothers trying to make Kentucky Derby history

Trainer Keith Desormeaux has his first Derby horse. Jockey Kent Desormeaux seeks his fourth Derby win.

Kent Desormeaux popped out of his rental car, practically shuddering with the energy that fires him through every day.

His brother, Keith Desormeaux, only half glanced as he munched slowly on an apple outside the stall of his Kentucky Derby contender, Exaggerator.

The Desormeauxs are the pride of Louisiana's Cajun country and on Saturday, they'll attempt to become the first brothers to win the Derby as a trainer-jockey duo.

Yet their partnership is more about differences than similarities.

"The good thing is I really can't relate to what he does," Keith Desormeaux said. "And he can't relate to what I do. Kent's all go and strategy in the course of a race, and my job is monotonous and over time, preparing and creating this running machine that we have. His job is over and done in two minutes. Mine takes two years."

Keith, 49, is a Derby rookie. Kent, 46, is anything but. He's won the race three times in a Hall of Fame career that has spanned nearly 30 years.

But for all his success, there is a darker side to the younger Desormeaux's biography. He has failed Breathalyzer tests four times at various tracks. And though he has explained away each offense, his brother is among those who have expressed concern.

"We have a brotherly thing," Keith said. "I'll give him a call when things are not going right either in life or in business. … I'd like to think as an older brother, I can be useful in those kinds of things, give him a pick-me-up when he needs it."

They don't spend a huge amount of time together away from the track, in part because they are so different — Kent always the live wire and Keith a laconic presence.

"He told me once thank God I only ride his horses once a week, because it takes a week for them to calm down after I ride them," Kent said, grinning. "My job is to make 'em run scared and so far so good."

There's no greater defender of Kent's talents in the saddle than Keith. He bristled at the idea he'd put anyone else on Exaggerator.

"That would only be a question if he wasn't in the Hall of Fame, if he didn't hold world records, if he wasn't still a great rider," he said. "There's no tiebreaker. He's the best. Why wouldn't I ride him? It's not only my opinion. I'm his brother. I'm going to have a biased opinion. But it doesn't matter what I say. The numbers say he's the best. The fact he's also my brother, wow, how lucky am I?"

There will be no familial bitterness, he added, if Kent can't find the path to victory aboard his most talented horse.

"How could I hate him when he rides a bad race?" Keith said. "He's my brother. I have no choice. So the pressure's off. I don't have to maintain a relationship, because it's always going to be there anyway."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/ChildsWalker

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
52°