It’s been a competitive jockey colony at Arlington International Racecourse so far this meet (May - September) due to the addition of a few new faces in the jockeys' room. One of those is Harry Hernandez, who has enjoyed a solid beginning of the 2018 meet with six victories in 29 mounts.
Hernandez, 21, is currently tied for fourth in the standings with England's Sophie Doyle, who also is riding her first full season at the Chicagol oval. He has finished in the money at a rate of 48 percent.
“I’m really excited and I’m really focused on my job,” Hernandez said. “Just trying to stay focused on winning races. I thank God and thank my agent [Ben Allen] and the owners for the opportunities that they have been giving me. I’m just trying to show off my experience.”
Hernandez began his riding career in his native Puerto Rico and attended the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, graduating in the same class as leading riders Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Eric Cancel.
“That school is such a nice school,” he said. “Before you graduate, they make sure that you’re a hard worker and that you’re professional and respectful. Most importantly, they make sure you’re watching your weight because that’s the most important. They teach you how to gallop, teach you how to position. It’s awesome.”
On moving to the United States, Hernandez began riding at Finger Lakes in New York, where he was consistently finishing in the top of the jockey standings.
“When I graduated, I wanted to start riding in Puerto Rico since that’s where I’m from and that’s where my family is from,” Hernandez said. “But I always have wanted to come to the United States. This is where the good money is, it’s where the good owners and trainers are and you’ll learn more riding with good jockeys. This is where you learn more. I always wanted to ride in the United States and make a name for myself here.”
It was good friend and accomplished rider Jose Ortiz, however, that gave him some encouragement to give Arlington a try this summer.
“I want to thank God for giving me these opportunities with the trainers and the owners,” Hernandez said. “My family always have supported me. I want to thank my really good friends, especially Jose Ortiz. He was the one who called me up and said ‘Hey, [Ben Allen] is a good agent’. He told me to go try it out.”