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Jockey Hernandez Enters Summer Meeting At Golden Gate Fields On A Roll
Golden Gate Fields opens its 2013 summer meeting Friday and nobody is heading into the 19-day season with more momentum than jockey Juan Hernandez.
Hernandez not only edged Hall of Famer Russell Baze for the riding championship at the recent Sonoma County Fair meeting in Santa Rosa, he captured four of the six stakes races presented at the 13-day meeting in the wine country.
Hernandez won 17 races at Santa Rosa, including the Wine Country Stakes with Catrageous, the Luther Burbank Handicap with Good Karma, the Joseph T. Grace Handicap with Fire With Fire, and the Jess Jackson Owners’ Handicap with Ain’t No Other. Baze had 16 wins, including two stakes tallies.
“Trying hard with every single horse,” said Hernandez when asked what was the key to his big campaign at Santa Rosa.
Hernandez, 21, has ranked among the leading riders in Northern California since his arrival in the Bay Area in 2010, and he finished third in the jockey standings behind Baze and the talented veteran Dennis Carr at the 2012-2013 winter/spring meeting at Golden Gate Fields.
A native of Vera Cruz, Mexico, Hernandez is on pace for a career year as he has already won 112 races in 2013 and his mounts have earned $1,969,332. He’ll try to rack up some more wins Friday at Golden Gate Fields when he rides in seven of the eight races on the opening-day program.
Can Hernandez make it back-to-back riding titles in the Bay Area by upsetting Baze at the summer session?
“I’d like to, but I don’t know if it will happen,” said Hernandez . “I’m just going to keep trying my best and we’ll see how everything goes.”
Hernandez will have the opportunity to take early command in the jockey standings this weekend as Baze will be out of town both Saturday and Sunday and Carr will be absent Sunday.
Baze will be at Del Mar Saturday to ride Unusual Way in the Grade 1 $300,000 Del Mar Oaks and at Emerald Downs Sunday to ride Politicallycorrect in the Grade 3 $200,000 Longacres Mile. Carr will also be at Emerald Sunday to pilot Gladding in the Mile.
Post time Friday is 3:45 p.m. and Golden Gate Fields will offer fans “Happy Hour” food and drink specials from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. (post time for the fifth race). The “Happy Hour” specials include all bottled beer for $3.50, Sauza margaritas for $5.00, Bulliet bourbon for $5.00, jumbo hot dogs for $2.00, regular nachos for $2.00, and fountain sodas for $2.00.
The summer meeting runs through Sunday, Sept. 15.