When Andy and Harry Hernandez suited up for the third race July 16 at Gulfstream Park, the five-furlong turf event became more about family and less about competition.
Harry Hernandez, one of Gulfstream’s top apprentices, finished third aboard Guarimbero in the $16,000 claiming contest, five places ahead of his father Andy, who was riding his first race in South Florida in several years. But although neither was victorious, both were smiling after the race. It was the first time the father-and-son natives of Puerto Rico had raced together in the continental U.S.
“It was a really good experience,” Harry said. “Everything I know, (my father) taught me. He’s always been there for me, helping me, telling me what I’m doing wrong. It was a good experience riding with him.”
A shared occupation and passion for horse racing has created a special bond between father and son. Harry, one of three siblings, is the only other rider in the family. His two brothers do not share the interest.
A graduate of the acclaimed Puerto Rican jockey school Escuela Vocacional Hipica, Harry, 18, has already won 41 races. Before fracturing his thumb in June, he was Gulfstream’s third-leading rider during its spring meet.
Andy, meanwhile, won 17 grade I races in Puerto Rico. The 42-year-old is currently working primarily as an exercise rider for Gulfstream-based trainer Gustavo Delgado, but hopes to ride more races at Gulfstream in the future so the friendly father-and-son competition can continue.
“He has three kids, and I’m the only one that’s become a jockey, so he loves (riding with me),” Harry said. “He’s going to stay here and he’s looking for more in the future. He wants to get an agent and start riding here more.”