Exaggerator's Preakness Stakes win denied Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist becoming a second Triple Crown victor in more than three decades following American Pharoah last year.

Interesting, but the real story is Exaggerator's rider Kent Desormeaux.

First, it needs to be acknowledged Desormeaux is one of the greatest modern day US jockeys. He has ridden more winners in a year (589) than any previous US jockey and has won the Kentucky Derby three times.

Desormeaux's more recent record has been marred by alcohol issues. The 46-year-old of Cajun heritage was once asked after numerous Alcoholics Anonymous meetings if he'd gained any advantage.


"Yes," he said with a touch if irony, "3000 more friends."

Previously one of America's most-sought after riders, Desormeaux was progressively dropped off by leading trainers, most of whom previously vied for his services.

A couple of years ago he was stood down from the last leg of the Triple Crown, New York's Belmont Stakes, after showing up at the track intoxicated the morning previous.

He has always strenuously denied having ridden on racedays with alcohol in his system.

But alcohol has not been his only problem.

He really hit international headlines when he mistook the 100m pole for the winning post in the Japan Cup of 1993.

Aboard US runner Kotashaan, Desormeaux was about to overtake the leader in the closing stages when he sat up on the horse thinking he had lost the race for having passed the winning post, which was, in fact, the 100m indicator.

Kotashaan's trainer Richard Mandella, standing by the running rail at the 100m, said: "He didn't stand up for a second and sit down again, he half pulled up."


The unforgivable point was Desormeaux had done the same thing in an earlier race on the programme. There were those unimpressed, perhaps because the Japan Cup was the world's richest horse race. Umm, yes.

Kotoshaan took home US$635,000, a decent prize at the time, but was denied $US2 million, plus the US Horse Of The Year title, having won the Breeders Cup Turf three weeks before going to Japan.

Desormeaux rode Exaggerator for older brother Keith, who has also had alcohol problems.

The brothers have had a strained relationship for years, but there is nothing better than a win in a race such as the Preakness to start building a bridge.

Most pundits believe Kent Desormeaux's problems have been a loss of focus from having too much money. Desormeaux's net worth is US$220 million ($327 million), plus luxury boats and private aircraft.