The year 2016 was a special one for Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux and his brother Keith.
The two became the first brother trainer/jockey tandem to win the Preakness, following their second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Kent, the younger of the two brothers, called the year "magical."
"We showed horses in 4-H as kids and then there we were last year racing horses in the Kentucky Derby," Kent said. "It was surreal, it was dreamy."
As magical as last year was, Saturday could be just as special for the brothers at the Louisiana Derby.
It'll be a chance for the Desormeux brothers, who are now based in California, to win at the Fair Grounds, just 2 1/2 hours away from their hometown of Maurice, just south of Lafayette.
A quarter of the folks in the grandstands will have the last name of Desormeuax or Hebert, Kent predicts.
"We are coming home to try to win the signature race of our home state," Kent said. "This is something that is on our bucket list. I've won the Kentucky Derby, the Illinois Derby, the Mississippi Derby and all kinds of derbies. But I've never won the Louisiana Derby. This is huge for us. It's a meaningful race family-wise."
Desormeaux, who rode Exaggerator in last year's Triple Crown races, will ride Sorry Erik on Saturday. Keith Desormeaux claimed Sorry Erik for just $20,000 in early January from a race in Santa Anita.
"To have a claiming horse for that little that potentially can run a big race in a million dollar pre Derby prep (race) is borderline incredible," Keith said. "It's been a nice windfall for us."
Sorry Erik has since won an allowance event. He finished seventh in February in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
"We feel like we're ahead of the game," Keith said. "Most people can't say that with their 3-year old. There's no pressure on us. We're a long shot and we understand that. This is fun and we are hoping for the best. This isn't a life-is-on-the-line race. The pressure is not on us. We are not supposed to win. Yeah, I'd like to be 2-1 and know I'll get a piece of that pie. But this is not bad because weve had a helluva run for two years."
The brothers, who got into horses because of their dad, complement each other well.
"Kent makes it easy," Keith. "There's not a nervous bone in his body. I'm the rookie on the block in these kind of races and he settles me down. All I have to do is get the horse ready. I do my job. He does his and we both like to think we are good at both and let the results speak for themselves. My job is done in the mornings. His job is done in the afternoon in front of the crowd when all the pressure is on."
Kent, of course, doesn't feel any pressure. And of course, he shouldn't. He already has three Kentucky Derby titles, three Preakness Stakes and one Belmont on his resume. He holds the U.S. record for most races won in a single year with 598 wins in 1989 and doesn't plan to stop riding until he surpasses New Iberia native Eddie Delahouussaye as the state's all-time winningest jockey. He has about 400 more victories to reach that goal, which would take him another four years.
"My mission every day is to win a race," Kent ssaid. "I wake up every day wanting to win because people like winning. If you're not winning in this game, you're not too useful. By the time I leave the starting gate (on Saturday), I will have figured out a way to try to win and hopefully that plan comes to fruition."
And even if it doesn't, a chance to go for a win in their home state will make this derby a memorable one for the brothers.
"We are just going to do our best," Keith said. "We get to come home and we get to swing for a million dollars."