Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux made his first visit to Gulfstream Park in 10 years a winning one, closing from last to score aboard Golden Kernel Racing Stable’s Lady Cha Cha in Friday’s seventh race feature.

The 54-year-old jockey rode two horses on Friday’s card while exploring his career options as he awaits a June 7 meeting with the California Horse Racing Board.

“I’ll make up my mind after that,” said Desormeaux, who last rode at Gulfstream in 2014. “I have a protocol that I have to go through that prevents me from competing with my peers. I’ll leave it at that.”

Should Desormeaux determine that it is in the best interests of his career to move on from Southern California should the “situation with the CHRB” go unresolved, Gulfstream Park or Colonial Downs in Virginia are his most likely destinations.

Whether or not he returns to ride fulltime at Gulfstream Park, Desormeaux certainly enjoyed himself Friday.

“Everything is Déjà vu, actually. I walked the backstretch this morning visiting the trainers, and it felt like I never left,” Desormeaux said after notching Win No. 6,171.

Based in Southern California for many years, Desormeaux made the most of his opportunities at Gulfstream Park in the past, most notably his winning ride aboard Big Brown in the 2008 Florida Derby (G1). He and Big Brown went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). Also in 2008, Desormeaux won the Fountain of Youth (G2) aboard Cool Coal Man in addition to capturing the Swale (G3) with Eaton’s Gift and Suwanee River (G3) on La Dolce Vita.

In Friday’s feature, Desormeaux won aboard Laura Cazares-trained Florida-bred Lady Cha Cha in the first level, $20,000 optional claiming for Florida-bred fillies and mares on turf.

Patiently trailing the seven-horse field throughout, Desormeaux took Lady Cha Cha to the outside on the turn into the homestretch, and the 3-year-old daughter of Vino Rosso made a wide sweeping move in the stretch to kick away and win by two-and-a-half lengths.

“All credit to the horse. What a nice filly,” the three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey said. “Thank you to Laura. I’ve never met her, but she put me on her horses today. I appreciate the opportunity.”

Lady Cha Cha is out of Peisinoe, by Yes It’s True and was bred by English Range Farm.

Earlier on the card, Desormeau rode in his first race at Gulfstream since 2014, finishing fifth aboard Cazares-trained Llamarada in Race 5, a mile optional claiming allowance won in a romp by odds-on favorite Batucada.

Desormeaux has a mount on Saturday and another on Sunday before returning to Southern California.

Return to the May 31 issue of Wire to Wire