Desormeaux fills bill in return to Pimlico, but some aren't cheering

April 21, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

In a coming episode of "Baywatch," Kent Desormeaux plays the role of a blind jockey named Corey L'Auberge.

"The jockey regains his sight, but is too scared to ride again until a girl he meets gives him the confidence to continue his career," Desormeaux said.

No, the girl isn't the comely Pamela Anderson. "But someone even prettier," Desormeaux said.

But it's Kent Desormeaux the rider, and not the actor, that Maryland racing fans will see in action tomorrow in more than $500,000 worth of stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

The three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey, who left the Maryland circuit as "the Kid" five years ago, returns tomorrow at the height of his powers.

Last Sunday, at age 25, Desormeaux became the youngest jockey in history to win 3,000 races. And he is engaged in a heated duel with his buddy, Corey Nakatani, to win the riding title at the prestigious winter/spring meet at Santa Anita Park.

The pair ranks 1-2 in the nation, with Nakatani about $700,000 ahead in earnings. And in two weeks at Churchill Downs, Desormeaux will try to wrest every ounce of stamina out of Afternoon Deelites in his bid to win his first Kentucky Derby.

Although Pimlico management is doing headstands because the celebrity jockey will be a drawing card for tomorrow's Maryland Spring Breeders' Challenge program, Desormeaux's one-day Maryland stand is causing a few hard feelings and bruised egos among local jockeys.

Desormeaux is bumping Edgar Prado off Harry and Tom Meyerhoff's favored Western Echo in the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes and Rick Wilson is losing the mount on Nancy Bayard's Calipha in the $100,000 Geisha Handicap. Both horses are trained by Bud Delp.

Prado failed to show up at Delp's barn at Laurel Park yesterday to work Take Heed, one of his stakes mounts. And Delp said he has been getting the cold shoulder from Wilson's agent.

"I'm sorry they feel this way," Delp said. "But the Meyerhoffs wanted to bring in Kent. They are paying him a substantial retainer to ride their horse. They [the Meyerhoffs] have been my clients for 26 years; Mrs. Bayard for 33 years. I'm going to do what they want to do."

Prado refused to talk about the situation yesterday, although his agent, Steve Rushing, said the move "doesn't bother me at all. We'll keep riding for Delp. We like money."

Wilson simply said he wishes "the matter could have been handled differently. I understand one aspect of it [the Meyerhoffs wanting Desormeaux on Western Echo], but not the other. I think I could have been kept on Calipha."

Calipha will be heavily favored in the five-horse Geisha field. Desormeaux also will ride Larry Johnson's Hi Earl for trainer Ron Cartwright in the $60,000 Star De Naskra Stakes, Stuart Janney III's Military Look for Charlie Hadry in the $100,000 Jennings Handicap and the Chaney Ranch's Cielo Star for Laurie Calhoun in the $75,000 Caesar's Wish.

Desormeaux checks in at 115 pounds, which means he'll be able to make weight in all of the races except for the Jennings; Military Look will have to carry five pounds overweight.

Desormeaux has also been named on horses in six other races on the 11-race card.

He'll take the "red eye" from Los Angeles, scheduled to arrive in Baltimore at 7 a.m., and leave approximately 12 hours later. On Sunday, he will ride Frenchpark in the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita.

When told he's been booked on mounts in all 11 Pimlico races, Desormeaux said: "I guess I better eat my Wheaties."

NOTES: Track oddsmaker Clem Florio has made Western Echo the 2-1 favorite in the Tesio, followed by He's Got Gall at 7-2 and Mighty Magee at 4-1. Florio regards Maryland Juvenile champ Oliver's Twist, who has been winless this year, as a 12-1 longshot. Oliver Twist's trainer, Billy Boniface, said he is adding blinkers to the horse's equipment. "It's something I've been talking about doing in his last three races, but didn't do," Boniface said. "I've been galloping and working him in blinkers and there's a distinct difference. He's showing a lot better concentration."

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