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Hernandez Impresses at Aqueduct

Apprentice jockey Omar Hernandez, a 16-year-old from Panama, began his North American riding career in strong fashion on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning with his first two mounts.

In race 4, an optional claimer for filly and mare sprinters, Hernandez stalked the pacesetters aboard Verse Choir ($12.80), took the lead at the top of the stretch, and held off Superior Sarah to win by a half-length. Cornelio Velasquez, who rode the runner-up, is Hernandez’s godfather.

Hernandez added a second victory in race 7, a maiden special weight on turf for New York-breds. Aboard Cientifico ($17.60), Hernandez made a three-wide rally to take over at the head of the stretch and had enough left to stave off Imaspeedyguy to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

With his final mount of the day, Hernandez finished 10th aboard Western Gal in the nightcap.

Prior to his arrival in the United States, Hernandez won 44 races in Panama, according to his agent, Mike Kelly, who carries the book of Alex Solis, another Panamanian.

Kelly said Hernandez, a nephew of retired jockey Reuben Hernandez, plans to ride in New York full time



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