According to BloodHorse.com, jockey Kent Desormeaux was taken off his mount Hold Me Back in yesterday’s Domnion Day Handicap at Woodbine because he failed a required breath test prior to riding the Bill Mott trained horse.
While this potentially cost Desormeaux purse money, as Hold Me Back won the race, that is truly immaterial.
Racing officials have an obligation to protect the horses, jockeys and bettors from any potential dangers on the track. A jockey who has taken alcohol or drugs prior to riding in a race is an example of a clear danger that needs to be protected against. The stewards acted quickly and properly in keeping Kent from riding that race, however was the punishment sufficient?
Kent was suspended for that one day, fined $100 and sent back to ride some more. Should the stewards either in Canada, where Desormeaux rides infrequently, or in New York where he is a regular rider require more extensive evaluation or treatment before he is allowed to ride again? Quite possibly.
The investment owners have in horses can range into the millions of dollars. The owner places trust into the hands of the jockeys to make sure that the horse is not injured and that the other jockeys and horses are safe in their race. When a jockey has a potential alcohol or drug problem, there should be steps taken to protect the investment in the animal as well as the health of the jockey.
Hopefully Kent Desormeaux will get help if it is needed. Hopefully the states will continue to make sure that the jockey colony and the horses they ride are safe.