Homeracing

Kentucky Derby Jockey Profile: Brian Hernandez

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 30th, 2021

Who is Brian Hernandez?

From standout apprentice to accomplished journeyman, Brian Hernandez has been as consistent a jockey as you’ll ever hope to find.

From the time he debuted in late 2003, Hernandez has never missed a beat or experienced a quiet year. The 35-year-old from Louisiana has won a minimum of $2.2 million every year since 2004, the year he won 243 races (13th best in the nation) and earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. As of late April 2021, Hernandez has won more than 2,100 races and over $90 million in purse money, including 58 graded stakes wins and half a dozen Grade 1s.

Hernandez has ridden twice in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and was poised to partner with Lexington (G3) winner King Fury for the 2021 renewal, before the horse was scratched due to high fever.

Through the years, Hernandez has gained a reputation for employing crafty ground-saving rides to upset major graded stakes races, a strategy he put to good use aboard King Fury in the Lexington.

Let’s take a moment to review Hernandez’s riding record in greater detail, analyzing his performances riding over dirt and synthetic surfaces at major tracks on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.


What are Jockey Brian Hernandez's Records related to the Kentucky Derby?

Below are statistics for Hernandez's efforts at race tracks with more than two Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, plus lifetime data at the 1 1/4 mile distance and Churchill Downs specifically.

Track
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Starts
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Wins
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Places
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Thirds
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Win %
Up ArrowDown Arrow
ITM %
Up ArrowDown Arrow
ROI %
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Earnings
Up ArrowDown Arrow
Aqueduct
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Churchill Downs
1,517
254
230
206
17%
45%
5%
$13,738,159
Fair Grounds
673
123
115
109
18%
52%
-27%
$5,821,541
Gulfstream Park
124
15
15
19
12%
40%
-13%
$754,700
Keeneland
490
54
64
63
11%
37%
-42%
$4,789,916
Oaklawn Park
17
2
1
1
12%
24%
19%
$468,704
Santa Anita
4
0
1
0
0%
25%
-100%
$138,345
Tampa Bay Downs
3
1
0
0
33%
33%
-17%
$120,800
Turfway Park
25
4
3
3
16%
40%
50%
$455,558

Lifetime record over 1 1/4 miles on dirt:

Starts Wins Places Thirds
32 3 2 7
  Win % ITM % ROI %
  9% 38% -32%

Lifetime record in the Kentucky Derby:

Starts Wins Places Thirds
2 0 0 0
  Win % ITM % ROI %
  0% 0% -100%

Lifetime record stats compiled by Ed DeRosa and are through 2020.

All stats from Jan. 1, 2016 through April 20, 2021. Generated by STATSMASTER, Powered by TrackMaster, an Equibase Company


Below are statistics for Hernandez's efforts at race tracks with more than two Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, plus lifetime data at the 1 1/4 mile distance and Churchill Downs specifically.

Hernandez at Churchill Downs

Kentucky Derby handicappers will be glad to know Brian Hernandez is an experienced veteran at Churchill Downs. Indeed, Hernandez has enjoyed more success at the legendary Louisville oval than any other track, going 254-for-1,517 (17%) over the dirt since 2016. No fewer than 23 of Hernandez’s 58 graded stakes wins have come at Churchill Downs, including a gate-to-wire romp aboard Fort Larned in the 2013 Stephen Foster H. (G1). Betting all of his mounts over the main track since 2016 would have produced a 5% profit.

Hernandez ranked as the leading rider at the 2018 Churchill Downs spring meet, guiding 43 horses to the winner’s circle. That same year, Hernandez pulled off a memorable double in Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Churchill, executing impressive ground-saving rides to sweep the Iroquois (G3) aboard Cairo Cat and the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) aboard Signalman. Hernandez also won the 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club aboard McCraken.

At the 2018 Breeders’ Cup, Hernandez picked up a trio of major placings over the Churchill main track, finishing second in the Dirt Mile (G1) and Juvenile Fillies (G1), and third in the Juvenile (G1). This is all the more impressive when you consider how two of his mounts started at 10-1 and 67-1.

Hernandez at Fair Grounds

Hernandez is a regular presence during the winters at Fair Grounds, where he’s gone 123-for-673 (18%) riding on dirt since 2016. A top-five jockey by wins at the last two meets, Hernandez enjoyed a particularly memorable round of success during the 2016-17 season when he swept the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) aboard Girvin to rank second among all Fair Grounds jockeys by purse earnings.

Hernandez has also picked up graded wins in the 2020 Mineshaft (G3) and 2021 Louisiana (G3) at Fair Grounds.

Hernandez at Gulfstream Park

Hernandez’s 12% win rate over the Gulfstream main track isn’t particularly eye-catching, though his 15 victories include a couple of spectacular upsets. In the 2018 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), Hernandez helped longshot Sir Anthony rally up the rail to spring a 25-1 surprise. Then in the 2019 Holy Bull (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Hernandez again employed ground-saving tactics to bring Harvey Wallbanger home on top at 29-1.

Hernandez at Keeneland

Hernandez’s win rate over the Keeneland main track isn’t as high as at Churchill Downs, coming in at 11% off a 54-for-490 record. But don’t let the low win rate fool you—Hernandez has picked an impressive tally of graded victories at Keeneland. Grade 1 wins have come courtesy of Restless Rider in the 2018 Alcibiades (G1), Finley’sluckcharm in the 2018 Madison (G1), and Romantic Vision in the 2017 Spinster (G1), while Hernandez’s Road to the Kentucky Derby highlights include triumphs in the 2020 Blue Grass (G2) aboard Art Collector and the 2021 Lexington (G3) riding King Fury.

King Fury’s Lexington was yet another example of Hernandez’s ability to execute perfect rail-skimming rides. Saving ground over a sloppy track, King Fury rated behind a fast pace before sweeping past the leaders for a decisive victory, in the process qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.

Hernandez at Oaklawn Park

Hernandez isn’t a frequent visitor to Oaklawn, where’s he’s gone 2-for-17 (12%) since 2020. But his two victories came on very big occasions. After encouraging Go Google Yourself to rally and win the 2020 Bayakoa (G3) by a neck, Hernandez partnered with future champion Swiss Skydiver to upset the Fantasy (G3) at odds of 16-1.

Hernandez at Santa Anita

Hernandez’s 4-0-1-0 tally at Santa Anita since 2016 isn’t anything to write home about, with his best finish being a close second aboard Finley’sluckycharm in the 2016 La Brea (G1). But turn back the clock a few more years, and Hernandez’s record suddenly becomes more impressive. At the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, Hernandez perfectly rationed the speed of Fort Larned to wire the Classic (G1), the biggest win from Hernandez’s 32-3-2-7 (9%) resume riding in 1 1/4-mile dirt races like the Kentucky Derby.

Hernandez at Tampa Bay Downs

A day trip to Tampa in 2017 proved productive for Hernandez, who went 1-for-3 (33%) while guiding McCraken to win the Sam F. Davis (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Among McCraken’s beaten rivals was future Belmont (G1) winner Tapwrit.

Hernandez at Turfway Park

Hernandez’s 4-for-25 (16%) record riding the synthetic track at Turfway is solid, especially when you consider how Hernandez sprung a 23-1 upset aboard Oscar Nominated in the 2016 Spiral (G3), a race now known as the Jeff Ruby Steaks. By guiding Oscar Nominated to a tenacious neck victory, Hernandez helped the future $1.5 million earner qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

Hernandez also enjoyed a productive afternoon at Turfway in 2019, winning the Latonia S. and finishing second in the Bourbonette Oaks. Thanks in no small part to Oscar Nominated, betting all of Hernandez’s mounts at Turfway since 2016 would have produced a 50% profit.

Loading...