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Journeyman Riders Get Shot in BC Classic

Journeymen jockeys Brian Hernandez Jr. and Miguel Mena will be seeking the biggest victory of their young careers in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I), but both riders are doing their best to stay focused on their mounts at Churchill Downs prior to riding at Santa Anita on Saturday.
 
“I’m not really nervous right now because we’ve still got a couple more days,” Hernandez Jr. said. “I’ve still got to ride (Thursday and Friday). Come Saturday, I might be a little nervous then, but we’ll worry about that when it comes up.”
 
Hernandez Jr., who turns 27 Saturday, will be aboard Fort Larned in the Classic for trainer Ian Wilkes on Saturday, but will first guide morning-line favorite Neck ’n Neck, also trained by Wilkes, in Friday’s $100,000-added Ack Ack (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
 
“It’s a daily deal,” Hernandez Jr. said. “We race five days a week and you just have to take it day by day.”
 
Mena, who turns 26 on Tuesday (Nov.6), also will have mounts for the same trainer in the Ack Ack and Classic when he rides Stealcase and Pool Play this weekend, both from the barn of trainer Mark Casse.
 
“I’m just having fun,” Mena said. “I’m not nervous – yet. I’m just glad they gave me the opportunity. I’m staying focused on today and tomorrow and trying not to think about (the Classic) too much.”
 
After riding in the Classic on Saturday night, both riders will rush back to Louisville for mounts at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Post time for the Classic is 8:30 p.m. (all times Eastern) and Hernandez Jr. and Mena are both scheduled to ride their first race Sunday in Race 3 at 1:37 p.m. 
 

 

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