08/04/2010 3:39PM

Desouza takes round-about way to reach Hoosier Park


Nelson Desouza, who won his first race at Hoosier Park last Sunday, took the long way to get to Indiana racing.
Desouza, 28, had a cousin who was a jockey in his native Brazil.
“My cousin was a very good jockey and I have a similar build, “ Desouza said. “I knew my weight wouldn’t be a problem so I decided to give it a try.”
After attending the jockey school in Brazil, where he met current Hoosier rider Leandro Goncalves, Desouza had immediate success.
“I won my first race after jockey school and was doing really well. I won a lot of races there.” Desouza said.
In 2005, he accepted an offer to ride in England as an apprentice rider.
“I hooked up with the right people and things were going very well. I had the same agent as Frankie Dettori,” he said. “We rode for the sheikhs and a lot of the great outfits over there. I even rode four or five in Dubai and other tracks in the Middle East.”
But Desouza always had a desire to ride in the United States.
“It was like a hole in me, wanting to come here to ride.” Desouza said.
Last year, Desouza made his way to Pimlico and finished 10th in the standings. He went back to Brazil for the winter and rode at Aqueduct earlier this year, but didn’t have great success.
“I had an agent all lined up, but after two weeks, Prado fired his agent and took mine,” said Desouza, referring to long-time rider Edgar Prado. “Things just didn’t go well, if you don’t have a good agent up there, you won’t ride much.”
Desouza decided to hook up with his old friend Goncalves and come to Indiana.
“Leandro has done well and has helped me out since I got here,” Desouza said.