Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux will not ride in the Preakness Stakes after failing a breathalyser test in New York.
A dual Preakness winner, Desormeaux was removed as the rider of 15-1 chance Tiger Walk by owner Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm and trainer Ignacio Correas, and replaced by Ramon Dominguez.
The 42-year-old Desormeaux failed the test at Belmont Park and was taken off all three of his scheduled mounts. He has not been suspended, but the New York State Racing and Wagering Board is conducting an investigation.
According to a rule in New York that went into effect on April 27, every jockey named to ride is required to undergo a test for alcohol consumption.
“This was a team decision and sometimes things happen for a reason,” Sagamore Farm general manager Tom Mullikin wrote on the farm’s Twitter account.
“We’re trying to run a professional operation & can’t have any distractions this weekend. We spoke w/ Kent and wished him well.”
Dominguez is a two-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s leading jockey and is looking for his first Preakness win. He’s 0 for 9 but has finished second two times, with First Dude in 2010 and Scrappy T in 2005.
“Ramon Dominguez is a great rider and we plan to have a lot of fun tomorrow,” Mullikin added.
Desormeaux had one other mount on Saturday (Sunday AEST),in a maiden race following the Preakness.
He is eligible to ride, but it’s not immediately clear whether the jockey will come to Baltimore.
Jockeys at Pimlico are not required to take a breathalyser test but the track stewards may order one if they have “reasonable cause.”
According to the Racing Form, Desormeaux failed a breathalyser test at Woodbine in July 2010 and was removed from his mount, Hold Me Back, in the Dominion Day Handicap. Hold Me Back won that race with Tyler Pizarro aboard.
Desormeaux is a three-time Eclipse Award winner with more than 5400 wins, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories aboard Real Quiet in 1998 and Big Brown in 2008.