Hernandez: ‘Memorable Day At The Office’ Included Spill, Four Victories

Trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. had a memorable Saturday at Churchill Downs that ultimately led the duo to the winner’s circle with longshot Patrona Margarita in the $200,000 Pocahontas (Grade II), securing the top spot on the early “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” leaderboard.

Hernandez’s day started out with three victories in Races 5, 6 and 8. However, in Race 9, the $100,000 Open Mind, Hernandez’ mount Ivy Bell attempted to squeeze though an opening at the rail to challenge the Calhoun-trained Mayla for the lead. As the two crossed the quarter pole after a half-mile in :45.81, Mayla, ridden by Gabriel Saez, came in near the eighth pole and put Ivy Bell in tight along the rail as she clipped heels and dropped Hernandez. Both horse and jockey appeared fine after the incident. Ivy Bell was caught by an outrider and Hernandez walked back to the jockey’s room after a quick visit by EMTs.

The spill did not hurt the confidence of the Louisiana-born jockey as he guided 23-1 longshot Patrona Margarita to a 3 ¾-length victory in Pocahontas, the final race of the afternoon.

“That was a memorable day at the office,” said Hernandez walking back to the jockey’s room following the race. “I’ll probably be sore tomorrow but right now I’m thankful everything ended as well as it did.”

After Mayla crossed the wire in front, Calhoun made a left turn away from the winner’s circle to check on Hernandez’ condition.

“It just goes to show you how classy Bret and his team are,” Hernandez said. “That’s why I love riding for him.”

“You hate to think back on what the day could have been with two stakes victories,” Calhoun said. “I’m just so thankful Brian was okay. We ended things on a high note but this was quite the rollercoaster day.”

Patrona Margarita, a Texas-bred daughter of Special Rate out of the Naevus mare Margarita Mistress, banked $115,320 for the win and is the early points-leader on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks after collecting 10 points. The Pocahontas was the first of 30 qualifying races to the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) to be run next May, and points were awarded to the Top 4 finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Patrona Margarita also guaranteed herself a starting spot in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) on Nov. 4 at Del Mar. The Pocahontas is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Juvenile Fillies Challenge Division, which means the winner will also will have her entry fees and a travel allowance paid by Breeders’ Cup. However, Patrona Margarita is not currently Breeders’ Cup eligible to receive those perks.

“Right now we’ll aim to the (Oct. 7) Alcibiades at Keeneland,” Calhoun said. “She trained phenomenal into this race and really was proven at a distance of ground.”

The post Hernandez: ‘Memorable Day At The Office’ Included Spill, Four Victories appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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