One day after Big Chief Racing's Ive Struck a Nerve rewarded a few of racing's eternally-grinning optimists with a $272.40 return on a $2 win wager in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, the Yankee Gentleman colt's trainer, Keith Desormeaux, was already having Kentucky Derby dreams, but with an important intermediate dream.
"We'd be crazy not to run in the (Grade 2, $1 million) Louisiana Derby," said Desormeaux, still in the afterglow of the biggest stakes score of his career. "Plus, we have to represent the home team."
Desormeaux, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, has been a Fair Grounds-based conditioner for well over a decade, underrated for his own abilities as a horseman while relegated to the shadow of his younger brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
"I suppose, like a lot of modern horsemen, I could buy into the theory that fresh is better, and try to train my horse up to the Kentucky Derby off of his race yesterday, but that's not my style," Desormeaux said. "My horse is fit, and it's a lot easier to train an athlete that is fit.
"Fit horses don't get hurt so easily. My horse came back from his race just fine and ate up everything last night and this morning. He keeps good weight on him, and he's heavy-boned.
"We're having fun with this horse," Desormeaux concluded, speaking of his relationship with Ive Struck a Nerve's owner, Matt Bryan. "We went out to dinner last night, talked about the future and had a lot of laughs."
The upcoming Louisiana Derby will celebrate its 100th anniversary edition on March 30.