The jockey, who is seeking to win the coveted Triple Crown with Big Brown in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I), displayed good form when throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at New York’s Shea Stadium prior to the June 1 night game between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.
With Mets manager Willie Randolph behind the plate, Desormeaux threw what he described as a “perfect strike.”
Accompanying the rider to the pitcher’s mound were sons Jacob and Josh. Desormeaux wore a Mets uniform shirt with the number 20 on it. Big Brown was program number 20 and broke from that post position when winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The son of Boundary positioned himself to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 to win all three classics.
Desormeaux said his pitch over the plate was indicative of his baseball abilities. “I was a good ballplayer,” said the rider, noting he played almost every position, including catcher and, appropriately, shortstop, while growing up in Louisiana. “I always made the Little League All-Star team.”
But a baseball career was never in the cards for Desormeaux because, as he explains, “I was already a jockey by the time I was 12.”
Before throwing the first pitch, Desormeaux and his sons spent time in the dugout with some Mets players. Outfielder Moises Alou, who owns horses in partnerships, brought his copies of The Blood-Horse magazine from when Big Brown won the Derby and Preakness to have them autographed by Desormeaux. The jockey also spent some time with Dodgers manager Joe Torre, the former New York Yankees manager who is also a horse owner.
The Mets provided the red carpet treatment for Desormeaux and his family, and the family of IEAH Stable’s co-owner and co-CEO Richard Schiavo. IEAH races Big Brown in partnership with Paul Pompa Jr.
The Mets-Dodgers first pitch was the third for Desormeaux, who had two such events in 1998 when Real Quiet was on a quest for the Triple Crown. The jockey threw out the first pitch before a Baltimore Orioles game and prior to an Anaheim Angels game that year.