Jockey Jorge F. Hernandez captured his first win in the United States when guiding Queen Cadence to victory in the first race at Laurel Park Sunday.
A multiple group-stakes winning jockey in his native Chile, the 33-year-old Hernandez’s first domestic win came in his 27th mount. He also finished fourth on Shoulda Had It for owner-trainer Mario Serey, Jr. in Sunday’s second race.
“I am really happy. I was waiting for it. After having five seconds in a month, I wanted to get that first win out of the way,” Hernandez said through fellow jockey Angel Cruz. “It’s special.”
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both also named Jorge, Hernandez began riding at the age of 16 prior to entering the Blanco Encalada Riders School. Standing just 4-foot-7, Hernandez quickly became one of Chile’s top riders and earned the nickname, ‘El Bomba.’ He said he won 960 races in his home country, including Group 1, 2 and 3 stakes.
“My career was awesome over there, but I wanted to try something different in the United States,” Hernandez said.
Brought to Laurel by Claudio Gonzalez, Maryland’s overall leading trainer six straight years who also hails from Chile, Hernandez had five seconds and one third from his first 26 mounts. He made his North American debut Jan. 6, finishing fifth on Gonzalez-trained God is Love. Seventeen of Hernandez’s mounts have come for Gonzalez.
“Claudio brought me from Chile,” Hernandez said. “I want to thank Claudio and all the other trainers that have given me the opportunity since I’ve been here. I’m so happy for the opportunity Claudio gave me. He opened the door for me to come here.”