‘Running Shoes On’: Desormeaux Hoping For First Louisiana Derby With My Boy Jack

Every trainer has aspirations of winning the Kentucky Derby, but for trainer and Maurice, La. native Keith Desormeaux, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com is a close second.

Owned by Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables LLC, My Boy Jack will look to fulfill such aspirations for Desormeaux, when he ships to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for next Saturday’s event, which carries a purse of $1 million in addition to 170 qualifying points toward the G1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 5. The son of Creative Cause is currently No. 18 on the Leaderboard with 12 points, where he earned ten points from a victory in last month’s G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park and two when finishing third behind McKinzie in the G3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

“As soon as he crossed the wire in Arkansas, we started thinking about our next move,” Desormeaux said. “When you win over a track, it makes sense to run right back there, but (part-owner) Sol Kumin brought up a good point. The Rebel is not an equal weights race, so off a graded stakes win, we would be at an immediate disadvantage. The Louisiana Derby is equal weights and there are twice as many points offered. It gives us an extra week, one million is a monster pot, and if we are forced to scratch or have an unlucky trip, there is time to get into another prep race and still make the Kentucky Derby.

“I live in California, but I’m 100 percent Louisiana-bred,” Desormeaux continued. “I look for any good reason to come home, but that has no bearing on our racing decisions. Last year was my first time running in the Louisiana Derby, and we ran fifth with a (37-1) longshot Sorry Erik. We’ve had a nice run of success the last couple of years. It has been very rewarding for me and my family, anything that happens from this point forward is welcomed with appreciation and gratitude. A lot of hard work has gotten me here, and I just want to enjoy it.”

Desormeaux ran My Boy Jack on the turf in all but one of his starts as a 2-year-old. He broke his maiden in the Zuma Beach Stakes over the lawn at Santa Anita before a seventh-place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in November.

“Running him around two turns was a priority and those races are offered on turf early on,” Desormeaux said. “The number one quality for a turf horse is pedigree, but this horse is by

Creative Cause out of a Mineshaft mare (Gold N Shaft), which is dirt. The first race of his career was a sprint on dirt. We’ve watched him train on dirt, and knew he had no problem handling it. We contemplated cross entering him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but in discussing it with the owners, we decided to keep him on turf because he had excelled over it, and make the surface switch later.”

Desormeaux scored his first graded stakes victory as a trainer five years ago when 135-1 long shot Ive Struck A Nerve won the G2 Risen Star Stakes in 2013. His best Kentucky Derby finish came in 2016 with a runner-up effort from Exaggerator, who went on to win that year’s G1 Preakness Stakes.

“(2014 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner) Texas Red may have been a $17,000 yearling, but he was a phenomenal specimen, as were (G1 winner) Decked Out and Exaggerator,” Desormeaux said. “(My Boy) Jack is an overachiever. He’s nicely built, but a little lighter and smaller than most of my better horses. He’s athletic enough, but he has the most important quality of all, and that’s a big heart. That’s the x-factor.”

His most recent breeze was a five furlong work at Santa Anita on Mar. 10, where he went 1:01.60 in what Desormeaux referred to as a “wow move”.

“When (brother and Hall of Fame jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) asked him for just a little bit, he exploded for a sixteenth of a mile,” Desormeaux said. “Then Kent wrapped up on him. When Kent does that, he’s telling me that the horse is doing enough and that he’s on point.”

My Boy Jack is scheduled to ship to the Fair Grounds either Monday, Mar. 19 or the following Wednesday.

“I have a ton of respect for the local horsemen at the Fair Grounds and I can’t wait to see everybody,” Desormeaux said. “The Louisiana Derby is going to be a tough race. We will need to have our running shoes on. I think our horse will love the long stretch. He’ll make it exciting.”

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