Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
, unceremoniously unseated from Janis Whitham’s 2012 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned
leaving the gate in Saturday’s Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap, emerged unscathed from that mishap and willing to talk about it outside the jockeys’ room at Fair Grounds Race Course shortly before Sunday’s first race.
“This is a tough game,” said Hernandez with a smile the morning after the horse he rode to victory in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic ran without him in his 2013 debut in South Florida. “It’s unbelievable that something like that can happen, but it does in racing. They tell me they clocked the horse in something like 1:30 for the mile. The horse ran huge without me.
“I’m fine today,” said Hernandez. “I didn’t get hurt at all. The only thing that was bruised was my pride. Now my only concern is for the horse. I hope he comes out of the race without any problems.
“Ian (Wilkes, Fort Larned’s trainer) called me last night to make sure I was all right,” said Hernandez. “I told him I was fine and that I just hoped the horse was all right, too, and my only concern was for the horse. I thought that was a very nice thing for Ian to do. He’s got a lot of class.
“I caught a 10 o’clock flight out of Florida last night,” concluded Hernandez, “so I’m back here ready to ride again today.”
Hernandez won two of the first four races Sunday with two more mounts to go.