The Sonneteer team is unique featuring a pair of brothers playing critical roles. Kent and Keith Desormeaux make up Exaggerator’s jockey/trainer duo. According to The Times-Picayune, the brothers grew up in a small farming town outside Maurice, Louisiana.
According to NJ.com, Keith named their 2016 horse Exaggerator after his girlfriend, Julie Clark. He noted his girlfriend has a tendency for embellishing the truth, and it proved to be the inspiration for the horse’s name.
The brothers speak French and describe their family as cajun. The Desormeauxs are veterans in the horse racing business. Kent is a Hall of Fame jockey while Keith is a long-time horse trainer. The 2016 Kentucky Derby marked Keith’s first time participating in the big race. From their personality differences to their experience in horse racing, there is a lot to learn about the Desormeaux brothers.
Here’s what you need to know about Kent and Keith Desormeaux.
1. Kent Has Won the Kentucky Derby Three Times
Kent is one of the most accomplished jockeys in the sport. He was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 and had a record 589 wins in 1989. He won his first Kentucky Derby in 1998 on Real Quiet. He won again at Churchill Downs in 2000 riding Fusaichi Pegasus. His last Kentucky Derby victory came in 2008 on Big Brown.
A win in 2016 would be more significant as it would be Kent’s first time in the Churchill Downs Winner’s Circle with his brother. He spoke to the Los Angeles Times about experiencing the race with his brother. “I’ll probably cry in the post parade. I’ll cry in the gate and I’ll cry at the eighth pole.… I want to win another Kentucky Derby and to win it for my brother, there are no words,” Kent told the Los Angeles Times.
2. The Brothers Have Completely Different Personalities & Do Not Talk Much
Hearing about two brothers working together on a horse racing team, one would think the brothers are extremely close. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Keith pointed out the two of them have opposite personalities.
“We’re so different personality wise. He’s a ton of energy from the moment he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. I’m more even keel. Different lifestyles. We don’t hang out much together,” Keith explained to the Los Angeles Times.
The two play different roles on the team. Kent is the decorated jockey and focuses on the race itself. Keith is responsible for the training and mapping out the strategy for each race.
3. The Desormeauxs Have an Opportunity to Become the First Set of Brothers to Win the Kentucky Derby
Kent and Keith have an opportunity to make history in the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Kent is a Derby veteran while the 2016 race is Keith’s first time experiencing the big event at Churchill Downs. The brothers have an opportunity to become the first jockey/trainer pair of brothers to win the Kentucky Derby. Keith explained to the Baltimore Sun why Kent was chosen as the jockey for 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. 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?” Kent told the Baltimore Sun
4. Rosie Higgins, Kent’s Wife, Is Also a Jockey
Kent and his wife, Rosie Higgins, share the same profession. Higgins won her first race at Santa Anita in February 2016. According to Sports Illustrated, Kent received a text message from friends reading ”Congratulations, Mr. Higgins.”
According to Daily Racing Form, Rosie grew up in Ohio around horses. Her father, Charlie, was a successful trainer and won 38 races.
The couple was married on January 7, 2013 at the Gulfstream Winner’s Circle with just a few people present. Kent has two sons, Joshua and Jacob, from his previous marriage.
5. Kent Has Been Penalized for Alcohol Related Incidents
According to Newsday, Kent has failed Breathalyzer tests at tracks on three separate occasions. He was also fined in 2015 by Santa Anita for driving under the influence.
Kent spoke to The New York Times in 2012 about his battles with alcohol. “I have to take more responsibility, so that’s what I’m doing now. You have to accept that the alcohol has gotten control of you, and once you understand that, you can start moving toward other steps,” Kent told The New York Times.