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La-bred Chimney Rock Digs In for Churchill Allowance Score

 

Three Diamonds Farm’s Chimney Rock, fourth in his season debut, rebounded with a fighting effort to eke out a narrow win May 17 in a turf sprint allowance for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The 5 1/2-furlong dash was Chimney Rock’s first race back against Four Wheel Drive, who went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and defeated Chimney Rock by three-quarters of a length in the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2T). While Four Wheel Drive was away slow from the rail as the 3-5 favorite, Chimney Rock stalked the pacesetter and fought for a head victory. Four Wheel Drive finished seventh. Jack and Noah, who showed the way through fractions of :22.85 and :46.20, proved to be a challenger to Chimney Rock but had to settle for second. Guildsman rallied from 10th to finish third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Jack and Noah.

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Horses Arrive at Churchill Downs From Fair Grounds

About 175 horses were scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of May 11.

The first horse vans began arriving at Churchill Downs‘ stable gate in the early morning May 11 from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, with approximately 175 horses scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of the day, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave.

“We’re so glad to be coming home,” said trainer Greg Foley. Foley, whose family lives in Oldham County, Kentucky, experienced an unplanned, extended stay in New Orleans following the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed entry to the backside at Churchill Downs by nearly two months. Foley is annually one of the first trainers to arrive at Churchill Downs, and he held to tradition Monday as part of his string of horses were the first to arrive at 6 a.m. ET.

Other trainers to have horses that arrived Monday included Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Bret Calhoun, Steve Margolis, and Al Stall Jr.

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Churchill Backstretch to Open May 11, Fair Grounds Horses Will Be First In

By T. D. Thornton

Churchill Downs has been cleared by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to open its backstretch area May 11 so long as the track adheres to enhanced pandemic precautions approved by the state.

Beshear announced the clearance Wednesday at his daily COVID-19 video press conference as part of a phased-in reopening for various state industries. Churchill followed up about an hour later with a press release that included specifics pertinent to horsemen.

Neither Beshear nor the track pinpointed an exact date for the return of live racing. But the Churchill release stated “it will be staged at a minimum of four days per week,” Thursday through Sunday.

The following is a listing of racetracks and when horses based there may return to the Churchill Downs stable areas between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.:

  • Fair Grounds (May 11-13)
  • Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and horses based at Florida training centers (May 14-16)
  • Oaklawn Park (May 17-19)
  • All other locales (May 20 onward)

 

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Keeneland and Churchill Downs Reinforce Commitment to Safety with Racing and Training Reforms

Darren Rogers, Churchill Downs Communications

Keeneland and Churchill Downs today jointly announced major changes in racing and training policies to strengthen safety protocols at both race tracks. Reforms include mandatory veterinary inspections prior to workouts and race entry and enhanced reporting and transparency requirements for trainers and attending veterinarians with regard to the fitness of horses to work and race.

These reforms also apply to horses stabled at Keeneland’s The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington and the Churchill Downs Training Center in Louisville.

In a significant step to promote integrity in racing, Keeneland and Churchill Downs will ban the race-day use of Lasix in all 2-year-old races under the International Medication Protocol authority granted in 810 KAR 8:050 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations beginning with Keeneland’s 2020 Spring Meet and following at Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 2020 Spring Meet. Kentucky’s Thoroughbred race tracks supported sweeping medication reforms, including the Lasix ban, adopted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) in late 2019.

Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in a joint statement: “These meaningful reforms further advance our commitment to create the safest possible environment for racing and training. Race tracks, horsemen and the veterinary community share a responsibility for the welfare of our human and equine athletes and to promote the sport for generations of fans to come.”

Changes will become effective with the opening of the stable areas at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. Trainers and attending veterinarians must agree to the following conditions in order to participate in the racing programs at either track:

A trainer is not permitted to enter a horse in any race unless the horse has been found fit to race by the attending veterinarian during the three days immediately prior to entry, and

A trainer is not permitted to work a horse unless the horse has been found fit to work by the attending veterinarian during the five days immediately before the work.

Trainers and attending veterinarians are obligated to inform the equine medical director at the appropriate race track and the KHRC of any changes in a horse’s fitness after an examination has been conducted.

Additionally, all horses at Keeneland and Churchill Downs will be subject to veterinary inspections by the tracks’ respective equine medical directors and to veterinary monitoring.

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Illinois Racing Board Grants Arlington 2020 Race Dates

Board had threatened one week earlier to deny Arlington race dates.

 

The Illinois Racing Board has voted to grant Arlington International Racecourse its normal summertime racing dates for 2020 despite concerns about owner Churchill Downs Inc.’s decision not to pursue a casino license that would have generated millions of dollars for the purse account.

The vote, at a packed meeting Sept. 24 in the Chicago Loop, came after a week’s delay during which an IRB committee sought potential changes in CDI’s position. None was forthcoming, although CDI senior vice president and general counsel Brad Blackwell told the IRB the company is “still trying to figure this out,” referring to new Illinois legislation authorizing racinos.

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Illinois Racing Board Threatens to Shut Down Arlington

Board may deny track 2020 dates after gaming refusal.

 

The Illinois Racing Board Sept. 17 threatened to deny Arlington International Racecourse racing dates for 2020 unless its owner, Churchill Downs Inc., can demonstrate within one week a concrete commitment to racing. The board adjourned its annual dates-award hearing until Sept. 24 and appointed a three-member committee to listen to “any new proposal which Churchill may wish to make.”

The action stems from a CDI decision not to apply for a gaming license at Arlington under terms of a new state law—an action that would cost purse accounts many millions of dollars a year. The decision, after years of Arlington lobbying for the right to run casino games, came some five months after CDI took a majority stake in Rivers Casino, located less than 15 miles from Arlington.

 

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Churchill Downs Increases Kentucky Derby Purse From $2 Million To $3 Million

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4 will be the richest in history as the purse for America’s greatest race and first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown has been elevated to a guaranteed $3 million.

The substantial $1 million increase to the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds highlights a record-setting, 34-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $12.03 million for Churchill Downs’ 2019 Spring Meet. Fifteen of the races received significant purse hikes, including the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI), Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Humana Distaff (GI), and two new races were added to the historic Louisville racetrack’s action-packed season, which will be run over 38 dates from April 27-June 29. 

With a record $3 million in prize money now guaranteed for the Kentucky Derby, the winner will receive the event’s highly sought-after gold trophy and a $1.86 million payday. Also, $600,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $300,000 to third, $150,000 to fourth and $90,000 to fifth. Previously, the Kentucky Derby purse had been worth $2 million since 2005, and was $1 million from 1996-2004.

The 1 1/8-mile Longines Kentucky Oaks – the Derby’s sister race staged one day prior on Friday, May 3 – received a $250,000 boost to $1.25 million and remains the nation’s most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies. It had been worth $1 million since 2011, and was worth $500,000 from 1996-2010.

The race that annually precedes the Kentucky Derby, the 1 1/8-mile Old Forester Turf Classic, has been doubled from $500,000 to $1 million, making it one of the most lucrative Grade I grass races for older horses in North America and attractive to potential international competitors.

Another Derby Day fixture, the seven-furlong Humana Distaff for older fillies and mares, had its purse enhanced by $200,000 from $300,000 to $500,000.

All told, there will be a record 18 stakes races cumulatively worth $9.58 million staged over Kentucky Derby Week, including seven stakes totaling $6.2 million on Derby Day and six totaling $2.9 million on Oaks Day. There also will be a pair of stakes on the May 2 Thurbyprogram and stakes races on Tuesday and Wednesday of Derby Week.

The significant increases in stakes prize money are attributed to early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s $65 million facility that opened in mid-September at nearby 4520 Poplar Level Road.

“Our recent investment into historical racing machines is paying immediate dividends to Kentucky horsemen,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “It’s extremely gratifying to meaningfully raise the purse of the iconic Kentucky Derby and other important racing fixtures on our stakes schedule as we continue to advance the overall racing program at Churchill Downs. Our steady growth in available prize money is truly exciting for the Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry.”

Purses at Churchill Downs in 2019 will be supercharged with more than an additional $10 million as a result of handle generated by Derby City Gaming’s initial year of operation.

More than $30 million in total prize money – $12 million in stakes races and another $18 million in overnight races – is expected to be offered during this year’s Spring Meet. The first condition book of scheduled races is being finalized by Director of Racing Ben Huffmanand is expected to be published in early February.

Last year, Churchill Downs offered a 32-race Spring Meet stakes schedule worth $8.84 million and total purses paid during the 372-race meet was $22.2 million.

The Stephen Foster (GII), the 1 1/8-mile test that has annually attracted some of the nation’s top older horses, will be worth $600,000 in 2019 and is one of four stakes that was boosted by $100,000. The others are the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII), American Turf presented by Ram Trucks (GII) and Pat Day Mile presented by LG&E and KU (GIII), which are now worth $400,000 apiece and run on the Derby Day undercard.

Seven races received $50,000 hikes. Oaks Day’s Eight Belles (GII), Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GII), Edgewood presented by ForchtBank (GIII) as well as mid-June’s Fleur de Lis (GII) and Wise Dan (GII) are now worth $250,000 each. The Matt Winn (GIII) and Regret (GIII) each have $150,000 purses.

The Foster, Fleur de Lis, Wise Dan, Matt Winn and Regret will be run during a “Downs After Dark” nighttime program on Saturday, June 15 that features five graded stakes races under the lights cumulatively worth $1.4 million.

Two $90,000-added overnight stakes races were added to the 2019 schedule: the Champions Day Marathon for older horses at 1 ½ miles on April 30, and the Mamzelle for 3-year-old fillies at five furlongs on turf on May 11.

The American Graded Stakes Committee upgraded a trio of Churchill Downs stakes races for 2019 and downgraded two others. The $500,000 Churchill Downs over seven furlongs on Derby Day has been raised to Grade I status, and Oaks Day’s Twin Spires Turf Sprint was elevated to a Grade II race. Also, opening night’s $100,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds at five furlongs on turf is now a Listed stakes race. The Stephen Foster was downgraded from Grade I to Grade II, and the $100,000 Aristides lost its Grade III status to become a Listed stakes race.

In other changes to the stakes schedule, the Stephen Foster, Fleur de Lis, $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) and $100,000 Louisville (GIII) will no longer be run under handicap conditions. Also, the distances of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint and $100,000 Unbridled Sidney (formerly an overnight stakes race and now the headliner on Thurby) have been extended from five furlongs on turf to 5 ½ furlongs on grass.

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Churchill Downs Inc. Hopes to End Racing at Calder

Horsemen note that such a move would cost some $10 million in purse money.

Florida industry groups have lined up to oppose a plan by Churchill Downs Inc. to end Thoroughbred racing at its Calder property, a move that could cost horsemen about $10 million a year in purses generated by slot machines at Calder Casino.

In February, CDI was awarded a pari-mutuel jai alai license from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. With that approval, CDI currently holds pari-mutuel licenses for both jai alai and Thoroughbred racing at Calder, but the latter will expire in 2020.

In documents submitted to the DPMW, CDI said it wishes to switch from racing to jai alai, a move that would reduce its expenses associated with statutory purse fund requirements. On July 31, Calder submitted an email to the DPMW requesting a declaratory statement from the regulator about whether the switch would jeopardize its casino license.

Under state law, the casinos at Gulfstream Park and Calder both pay into a single Thoroughbred purse fund, a commitment of 10% of their slot machine revenues. Even though Gulfstream owner The Stronach Group has taken over racing operations at the former Calder Race Course property—now run as Gulfstream Park West—the Calder casino generates revenues for purses and breeder awards all year. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association estimates revenue from the Calder casino committed to the purse fund will reach $9 million-$10 million this year.

The Florida HBPA has filed motions with the DPMW opposing CDI’s plans to change the Calder pari-mutuel license from Thoroughbred racing to jai alai. Late Aug. 23 in a joint release, Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company each expressed opposition to CDI ending racing in favor of jai alai.

The Florida FTBOA noted that voters approved casino gaming at Calder with the understanding that it would support Thoroughbred racing. It said that support has allowed CDI to successfully operate slot machines at its Calder property since 2010.

“Now, Churchill Downs apparently sees the opportunity to pull a ‘bait-and-switch’ in the interests of increasing its profits, with little regard for the economic harm its moves will cause to the faithful Florida trainers, owners, and breeders that have long supported its racing program, as well as the other Florida tracks and participants in Florida’s Thoroughbred industry,” the FTBOA noted.

Calder officials believe that under the language of the state law, a move from racing to jai alai should be allowed. Under the company’s interpretation, it’s not a high bar to clear for such a switch. It said the law only requires the property be located in Miami-Dade County, existed at the time added gaming was adopted, and conducted live racing in the calendar years 2002-03—all standards Calder meets. If the DPMW agrees with the company’s assessment, Calder plans to offer summer jai alai and discontinue Thoroughbred operations.

The Florida HBPA noted that following the 2004 state-wide vote that allowed slot machines at Calder and six other pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the legislature recognized the “importance of protecting and promoting Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry against the possibility that Calder and Gulfstream Park, the state’s two Thoroughbred tracks eligible for slot machine gaming, would abandon their Thoroughbred racing activities and instead offer patrons slot machine gaming only.”

In a filing with the DPMW, the Florida HBPA noted that in 2004 it committed $1 million to Calder to help campaign for the approval of slot machine gaming at tracks. It also outlined the far greater interest in Thoroughbred racing, as opposed to jai alai.

“The division knew, or should have known, that the substantial interests of FHBPA and its members would be or would likely be adversely affected,” the FHBPA argued.

In the release, Florida industry groups said if Calder is allowed to abandon Thoroughbred racing, the negative impact will be significant.

“It is extremely disappointing to watch Churchill Downs continue its effort to extricate itself from the racing business in Florida while adding millions more to its bottom line in slot revenue,” OBS officials said, before referencing the elimination of the grandstand and barns on the Calder property. “Calder’s Florida mission is illustrated by its past performances, which include bulldozing over half of the barn area, taking a wrecking ball to the grandstand, and supporting decoupling. Its latest attempt to exit racing via jai alai is a backdoor effort to continue operating slots and reopen its card room without horse racing. If Churchill gets its wish, the implications will stretch far beyond the Florida borders, and ripple effects will be felt nationwide in the sales ring, on the racetrack, and in the breeding shed.”

Decoupling is a proposal being debated that, if adopted, would allow operators to cease pari-mutuel wagering but retain their casino license.

In terms of casino operations, Gulfstream noted that if Calder eliminates its commitments to racing, that reduction in expenses will provide its casino a competitive advantage in the South Florida area. It also said Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the state would be hurt.

“We are obviously worried about the unlevel playing field and advantage Calder would have, along with the loss of breeders’ awards and purse money that has helped grow the industry,” Gulfstream officials said. “The ability just to change the use of a license after being granted slots under a different license would undermine all the growth we have achieved.”

On Aug. 24, a CDI spokesperson declined to comment on the Florida industry release.

Calder began advertising a part-time position on the company website and on LinkedIn for a jai alai player manager/trainer Aug. 6 and a position Aug. 9 for a cesta and pelota maker. A cesta is the basket a jai alai player wears on his or her hand to throw and catch the ball, and the pelota is the ball.

Since 2014, The Stronach Group has run the racing operations at Calder, which races as Gulfstream Park West. According to the DPMW, in fiscal year 2016-17, Gulfstream Park West offered 37 race dates and 346 races, with total purses of $7,593,910.

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CHURCHILL DOWNS ANNOUNCES NEW DERBY WEEK ENTRY PROCEDURES & SECURITY MEASURES

Track encourages guests to visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com for parking, arrival & entry information

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Racetrack (“Churchill Downs”), home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby, announced today new entry procedures that will be in effect for guests visiting the track any day of Derby Week (Saturday, April 28, 2018 through Saturday, May 5, 2018). The track unveiled its new parking and traffic plan last week and launched KentuckyDerbyParking.com to help visitors plan their arrival.

“Churchill Downs has invested heavily to improve the arrival and entry experience for all our guests and employees. We want to ensure a safe and secure environment, while helping people get in and out of the venue as efficiently as possible,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We encourage everyone joining us for Derby Week to visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com so you know exactly what to expect before you get to the track.”

Derby Week visitors will be the first to use Churchill Downs’ new expanded entry plaza, which will lead guests from Central Avenue to the newly constructed Paddock Gate that’s replacing previous entrances at Gates 1 and 17.

Churchill Downs has renamed its admission gates to reflect their locations in the venue. Ticket holders will enter Churchill Downs through one of three admission gates: the new Paddock Gate, the Clubhouse Gate (formerly Gate 10) and the Infield Gate (formerly Gate 3). The Infield Gate will only be available to guests with a General Admission ticket. All others will enter through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates.

Once ticket holders arrive at Churchill Downs, a new entry process will help them enter the track safely and efficiently:

  1. To ensure the safety and security of all Churchill Downs guests and employees, anyone entering the track will walk through metal detectors as part of the security screening measures. Prohibited items are not allowed past the security screening area.
  2. Next, guests entering through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates will scan their ticket at one of the new self-scanning entry turnstiles. Or, if someone has a General Admission ticket and is entering through the Infield Gate, an attendant will scan their ticket by hand. Once inside the track, guests are not allowed to leave the venue and reenter.
  3. Once a ticket is scanned, guests will proceed through the turnstile and follow staff direction and new signs from the admission gate to their seating section or venue.
  4. As guests make their way to their seating section, they will be greeted by an usher at the appropriate access control point. The usher will scan the ticket for a second time, stub the ticket and then apply an official wristband around their wrist. This wristband allows guests to come and go from their seating section throughout the day. Each ticket may only be scanned once at the wristband locations and must scan as valid to receive a wristband.
New this year, special quick entry lanes have been added to the security screening areas of all admission gates for those guests who are not bringing a bag of any type into the venue.

Additionally, guests with mobile tickets purchased through the official Ticketmaster Resale Marketplace will follow the same entry process as guests with printed tickets and will receive their wristband at the access control point.

Churchill Downs released a short video letting guests know what to expect before entering the track: https://youtu.be/jNOrSBjuZAU

In keeping with tradition, guests on Oaks and Derby Days are permitted to bring in food and box lunches in clear plastic bags smaller than 18 inches by 18 inches. However, these items are prohibited Opening Night (Saturday, April 28) through Thurby (Thursday, May 3).

Prohibited items and items deemed inappropriate for entry into the grounds are the responsibility of the ticketholder and cannot be accepted or checked by Churchill Downs. We urge patrons to plan ahead and leave these items at home. Churchill Downs and its security partners will not store prohibited items for patrons. The full list of prohibited and permitted items can be found at KentuckyDerbyParking.com.

PROHIBITED ITEMS FOR DERBY WEEK (Opening Night through Kentucky Derby Day)
• COOLERS AT ANY GATE – including the Stable Gate (styrofoam coolers and ice are available for purchase in the Infield)
• CANS (any size or type)
• GLASS BOTTLES OR CONTAINERS

• BACKPACKS and DUFFEL BAGS
• TENTS – NO POLES OR STAKES OF ANY KIND
• LAPTOP COMPUTERS and CAMCORDERS
• CAMERAS WITH DETACHABLE LENSES OR EQUIPPED WITH A LENS THAT IS 6” OR LARGER
• DRONES and REMOTE-CONTROLLED AIRCRAFT
• HOVERBOARDS
• PURSES LARGER THAN 12” IN ANY DIMENSION
• FIREWORKS, NOISEMAKERS, AIR HORNS, LASER LIGHTS/POINTERS, PEPPER SPRAYS
• ANIMALS (with the exception of service animals for guests with special needs)
• TRIPODS
• SELFIE STICKS                                                      
• ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
• ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES
• WEAPONS (including knives)                                                     
• THERMOSES                                                   
• LUGGAGE (including briefcases)
• GRILLS
• WAGONS                                                                                    
• UMBRELLAS
• ANY ITEMS DEEMED DANGEROUS AND/OR INAPPROPRIATE

PERMITTED ITEMS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY AND OAKS DAYS
• FOOD ITEMS IN CLEAR PLASTIC BAGS (maximum size 18”x 18” – no trash bags) *
• BOX LUNCHES in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” x 18” – no trash bags)
• WATER & SOFT DRINKS – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
• PURSES, BUT NONE LARGER THAN 12” IN ANY DIMENSION (subject to search)
• BABY/DIAPER BAGS – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
• SMALL CAMERAS – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
• SMALL PERSONAL MUSIC SYSTEMS, RADIOS & TELEVISIONS ** (no boomboxes) ***
• CELLULAR PHONES, SMARTPHONES & TABLETS **
• SEAT CUSHIONS SMALLER THAN 15”x 15” – no metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps                         
• STROLLERS (ONLY if carrying a child)
• SUNSCREEN (non-glass containers only)
• CHAIRS (permitted through the Infield Gate ONLY and cannot be carried to the frontside)
• BINOCULARS
• BLANKETS & TARPAULINS (Paddock and Infield Gates ONLY)

* Limit of two bags per person
** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items
*** Not permitted in hospitality spaces and dining rooms

For more information on arrival, parking and entry, please visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com and download the Churchill Downs and Waze mobile apps.

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Brian Hernandez Jr. Hits Churchill Downs Milestone

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Brian Hernandez Jr. registered his 500th Churchill Downs win on Thanksgiving Day

 

Louisiana native, Brian Hernandez Jr. became the 14th jockey in Churchill Downs history to ride 500 winners at the home of the Kentucky Derby when the 32-year-old won the seventh race on Thanksgiving Day aboard Rock Shandy for trainer Jordan Blair.

“It’s great to have my family here with me for this,” Hernandez said. “I’m thankful for all of the trainers and owners who have supported me throughout my career so far.”

Hernandez, who began riding professionally in 2003, won his first race at Churchill Downs aboard Machine to Tower on May 27, 2004. Overall, the native of Lafayette, La., has won 1,729 races and his mounts have amassed more than $63.8 million from 12,629 starts during a 15-year riding career.

He won the Eclipse Award in 2004 as the nation’s champion apprentice jockey. In 2012, Hernandez won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita aboard Fort Larned for his biggest career win.
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