© Scott Martinez

© Scott Martinez

Partnering again with his champion mount Heza Dasha Fire to win the $180,200 Golden State Derby (G2), jockey Cruz Mendez also earned a highlight for the month that helped him be named the AQHA-Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Month for August. The award is voted on by a panel of Quarter Horse racing experts for riding accomplishments and achievements for the previous month of racing.

Mendez has been the only rider for Heza Dasha Fire, who has earned $1,041,940 in nine career starts. The Derby was never in doubt, as they cruised to a daylight win.

“He’s a monster of a horse,” Mendez said. “I had a lot of faith in him because every time I worked him I could feel his strength. He just feels like a more mature horse. He warmed up great tonight and he behaved perfectly in the starting gate. He broke better tonight than in the trials. Toward the end of the race I just had to get his attention a little bit because he was moving his ears all over the place and watching what was going on. He’s just a terrific horse.”

Mendez won two stakes during the month of August, and was the third-leading money earner during that time. His wins came at a 26 percent clip, and he was in the money on 58 percent of his mounts. He made a total of 53 starts during August, with 14 wins and three seconds to earn $167,678.

Mendez is based in Cypress, California. His brother, Santiago, is also a jockey.

The voters are:

Steve Andersen (Daily Racing Form)
Andrea Caudill (Q-Racing Journal Editor)
Martha Claussen (AQHA Wrangler Aces Coordinator)
Chris Kotulak (Remington Park Handicapper/Analyst)
Don Stevens (Delta Downs Announcer)
Doug McPherson (Ajax Downs & Kawartha Downs Handicapper/Chart Caller)