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Former Panthers QB Delhomme Now a Leading Breeder

Former Carolina Panthers Quarterback Jake DelhommeThe last time the Carolina Panthers played in the NFL championship round, Jake Delhomme was their star quarterback, leading the team to its only previous Super Bowl appearance 13 years ago. As the Panthers prepare to take on the Denver Broncos in next Sunday’s Super Bowl, the former Pro Bowl quarterback is more concerned with post times than post patterns.

“I love the horse racing business,” said Delhomme, the excitement building in his voice. “I have eight horses in training now. I’m around the barn every day and that’s where I want to be.”

Delhomme still lives in his hometown of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana in the heart of Cajun country. He may be the owner of Set-Hut Stable, but it’s a family business in which the Delhomme roots run deep.

Jake’s grandfather, Sanders, always had racehorses and his father, Jerry, started riding Quarter Horses at the bush tracks when he was eight years old and then turned to breeding and training Thoroughbreds. Jake and his brother, Jeff, grew up in the barn doing every job, and their mother, Marcia, still keeps the books and runs the office.

Now Jake owns and breeds horses which Jerry and Jeff train at the Evangeline Downs Training Center, but all three are hands-on in the shedrow with whatever needs to be done regardless of titles.

“I strictly run in Louisiana and have Louisiana-breds,” said Jake, who retired from the NFL after the 2011-’12 season and after 14 seasons playing for the New Orleans Saints, Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.

“I also have three broodmares in Kentucky. I’m partners with four or five other guys and we breed and sell in Kentucky because I like to keep my hands in different parts of the business. I do some pinhooking with Al Pike, who is a consigner of 2-year-olds. A couple of years ago we sold some at the select sales, but I am strictly into Louisiana-bred racing. The babies and the mares are in Kentucky,” said Delhomme, who is the former president of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association and its current vice-president.

The name Jake Delhomme is still magical in Louisiana and New Orleans, where he was the beloved back-up quarterback for the then-struggling Saints for six seasons. Not only has he enjoyed a successful NFL career, he sits on the board of directors of a major bank and has been a celebrity endorser for a popular restaurant chain. Although he could buy horses and campaign them on any major circuit, he chooses to stay close to home.

“I don’t want to sound a certain way, but I am lucky enough that I certainly could race anywhere I want to. I take pride in a horse like Frammento (Midshipman), who ran in the Derby and the Belmont this year. I was part of the group that bought him as a yearling and sold him as a 2-year-old, and Al Pike pinhooked Vyjack (Into Mischief). We sold another one named Delhomme (Dixie Union) (a $230,000 Fasig-Tipton fall yearling), who was named after me, and WinStar bought him (for $440,000 at Fasig-Tipton Florida) but his career was cut short because of injury. We also sold a Tapit colt (Golden Barows) and that horse won his first two races in Japan and then was third in the UAE Derby last year,” he said.

“I love doing that and it gives me a lot of excitement,” he continued. “Don’t get me wrong. It would be great to race on that level but I love going to the barn every day and being with my dad and my brother. The racetrack is like a family with a lot of the people who work there and it’s a great deal of fun.”

Set-Hut Stable’s best horse currently is the homebred 4-year-old filly Forest Lake (Forestry). The winner of the 2014 Evangeline Downs Starlet S. was born right behind Delhomme’s house.

“I watched her be raised in our barn and those moments are special. She’s really doing well and I’ll run her Feb. 6, which is the day before the Super Bowl, in the Distaff on the Premier Night at Delta Downs and I’m excited just talking about it,” he said.

Delhomme’s football prowess landed him in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and in the same 2015 class with trainer Frank Brothers. Along with a Who’s Who of football luminaries, he’s now enshrined with racing legends Ronald Ardoin, Eddie Delahoussaye, John Franks, Mark Guidry, J.D. Mooney, Craig Perret and Randy Romero.

Is he more impressed by the football or the racing stars he is immortalized with?

“Both. I’ve become very good friends with Eddie (Delahoussaye) over the years. He’s moved back to Lafayette and I see him a good bit at the training center because he’s always out there. He’s one of the classiest people you’ll ever meet. He’s a big proponent of the game and the Louisiana program. It was great to go into the hall with him. He was there that evening I was inducted and that’s always special,” Delhomme said.

Perhaps one day Delhomme will be a double Hall of Famer, inducted a second time for his racing as well as football accomplishments.

“I don’t know about that,” he laughed. “Hopefully, we’ll get lucky and get a few decent horses… we’ll see what happens. That would be really nice. How about we shoot for that?”

Meanwhile, the 41-year-old former quarterback can’t help thinking about how the New England Patriots beat his Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII by a field goal with four seconds on the clock and quarterback Tom Brady won MVP honors.

“Would I like another crack at Brady and the Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl? There is no doubt,” said Delhomme, who still holds 10 Panthers records and was their honorary captain for the coin toss in last Sunday’s playoff win.

Although Forest Lake is running in that stakes race at Delta Downs the night before Super Bowl 50, he is invited to accompany the Panthers to San Francisco should they be playing. His heart will be in both places but he can’t be on the rail and on the sidelines.

“Let’s see what happens. Hopefully the team gets there and then we can work it out,” he said.

by - Lynne Snierson -


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