More Than 100 Head Catalogued to Texas Juvenile Sale

The Texas Thoroughbred Association is pleased to announce that it has catalogued more than 100 horses for the second annual Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. It is to be held at the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Lone Star Park on Tuesday, April 4, at noon. The under tack show is set for Sunday, April 2, at Lone Star starting at 11:00 a.m.

“We have almost 25 percent more juveniles in this sale than we did at last year’s inaugural sale,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. “Our sire power has also increased significantly, and we have a strong mix of horses bred in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, and of course also Kentucky, so I think this auction is headed in the right direction.”

Among the nationally prominent sires represented are Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Into Mischief, Midnight Lute, Munnings, Quality Road, Tale of the Cat, Tapizar, The Factor and Twirling Candy in addition to first crop sires Shanghai Bobby, Paynter, Overanalyze and Morning Line.

“I am very pleased with the national sire power our consignors have pointed to the sale,” commented Tim Boyce, sale director, “plus we have horses by top Texas sires like Too Much Bling, Grasshopper and My Golden Song that will also turn some heads. Our sale-topper last year looked like a Richard Stone Reeves print wherever she stood.”

Boyce was referring to Texas-bred Bling on the Music, a daughter of Too Much Bling who sold for $95,000 to Danny Keene from the consignment of Asmussen Horse Center. 

“She had the fastest breeze for an 1/8 in the under tack show and was just as gorgeous standing as she was moving,” said Boyce. “And then she went on to win two stakes and place in a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs.”

Videos for the under tack show will be posted online again this year and an enhanced, interactive online catalog will be available allowing consignors to showcase their offerings with additional photos, videos and information.

Graduates of the sale will be eligible for the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Futurity to be run in two $100,000-estimated divisions at Lone Star Park this year.

The catalog is now available online at and will be mailed out shortly. The sale will again be live-streamed on the TTA Sales website. 

Supplements are still being taken for the sale, and additional consignments will be announced.

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood
Photo: Marshall Blevins

Jockey Ashley Broussard’s mounts have won more than $5 million in purses

They’re up there in the dense fog. Circling. You can hear them, but you can’t see them. It’s a long migration from Canada to the rice fields of Rayne, La., but geese don’t rely on GPS.

Inside her modest kitchen, jockey Ashley Broussard is fixing breakfast for her 2-year-old son Bentley while going over a mental checklist for the day: exercise two horses at the Evangeline Downs Training Center, need talcum powder, check the oil in the car, take down the Christmas tree, out of cough medicine, call Mom, clothes in the dryer, macaroni and cheese for Bentley, leave a note for Uncle Cliff the baby sitter, ride five horses tonight at Delta Downs.

It’s not easy being a single parent, but like the geese, Broussard knows where she is going and how to get there.

The challenges of being a mother and maintaining her riding career have proved a steep climb full of surprises.

“In the beginning it was sleep deprivation,” Broussard admitted. “Having to wake up every three or four hours was a mental stress that was hard to overcome. My brain was totally consumed with different issues. I have always been around kids, but putting in a car seat was a new experience. I used to be in the gym all the time before I had Bentley, but now there is not a lot of time to go and lift weights.”

Broussard tipped the scales at 138 pounds during her pregnancy. She now weighs a fit 101.

“Chasing Bentley around keeps me in shape,” Broussard said with a laugh. “The everyday routine of working horses and riding puts you into a level of fitness. You have to have a strong core as well as back and legs. All of that translates into your arms, wrists, and shoulders so when you get on a really tough horse you find out what you got.”

The sharp turning, balance, and maneuverability against the clock of barrel racing contributed to Broussard’s skill as a jockey. The rodeo sport also revealed her tenacious urge to compete. As a teenager, she was ranked first in Louisiana for multiple years and was fifth in the world on two occasions.

Broussard was also raised with horse knowledge. Her father was a match-race jockey on the local bush tracks and became a longtime assistant to trainer Gene Norman. With a cowboy reputation of being able to handle the toughest horses, Clarence Broussard kept his daughter away from the racetrack but close to the farm and breaking babies.

“The animals are not strangers to me,” the 24-year-old Broussard said. “I’ve learned that every horse has its own personality and character. The trick is to persuade them to do things without being forceful or making them do it. When you treat them with kindness, it’s amazing how much smarter they are than humans.”

The gift of an exercise saddle from one of her father’s clients stimulated the dream of Broussard (then 16) to become a jockey. She sat down with her parents and told them she wanted to be a jockey, with a plan and the patience to carry it out. At 18, she got a job at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with trainer Steve Asmussen. Then, in the spring of 2013, Asmussen needed an exercise rider at Keeneland, and he needed one immediately. It was time to put up or shut up.

“I still had a lot to learn, but it was time to take a jump,” Broussard said of her decision to pack her bags. “I figured I might not ever get another chance to work for a Hall of Fame trainer. I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. If I am going to do something, I want to go all the way, so I took a deep breath and took off.”

Far from home for the first time, Broussard stayed in a cheap hotel on the interstate and went to the track early each morning. She “manned up” and there was no relief. Some days she was legged up on a dozen horses. Her next milestone was a move to Churchill Downs to get serious about becoming a jockey. She secured a salaried position with trainer Kellyn Gorder, received gate approval from the stewards, and was given her jockey license. She won her first race at Ellis Park in August 2013. She had been galloping horses for more than three years.

“A lot of people nowadays that have never been around a racetrack decide one day that they want to be a jockey,” Broussard said. “Three weeks later they are in a race somewhere. I’m not sorry or apologizing for taking so long. I wanted to learn everything from the ground up.”

The 2014 fall/winter meet at Fair Grounds landed Broussard in the same jock’s room as the meet’s leading rider, Rosie Napravnik, who drilled Broussard like it was basic training for the Navy SEALS. Her learning curve shot through the roof, and Broussard went on to become the meet’s leading apprentice rider.

“First of all, she looked good on a horse,” Napravnik remembered. “Ashley is smart and level-headed, and she somehow manages to listen to the right people that can help. You can preach, preach, preach to some young riders, but Ashley listened and then went out on the racetrack and applied what she learned.”

Broussard’s sacrifice has paid off. Despite the detours of child birth and an accident (broken collarbone and busted ribs) that kept her away three months, her mounts have won more than $5 million in purses. Her 130 wins in 2016 ranked 110th of the jockeys’ list in North America. The multiple stakes-winning rider is currently second in the standings at Delta Downs. She has had too many riding triples at Evangeline Downs to count. She won honors as the Jockey’s Guild’s Jockey of the Week after winning six consecutive races for five different trainers last Dec. 14 at Delta Downs. Two weeks prior to that performance, Broussard booted home five winners on a single card at Delta.

Wherever Broussard’s internal compass tells her to go, she has the markings of a bright future, and son Bentley will be right there with her.

“I just want him to stay healthy and follow his dreams,” Broussard said. “My parents never pushed me in any certain direction. They let me find my own path and just made sure I was safe along the way. I do want him to see that nothing happens in one day. That you have to work for what you want. Horse racing has offered me many life lessons, and if that is the path he loves, then I will be right there to follow him.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 18 edition of BloodHorse Magazine. To purchase a copy including the full version, visit

Study Aims to Improve Safety of Horse Farm Workers

Study Aims to Improve Safety of Horse Farm Workers,

Results in Free Bilingual Safety Materials

Using direct input from horse farm employees, managers, and owners, a group of researchers based at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health has put together a set of bilingual safety training materials* designed to equip horse farm managers and workers with information needed to stay safe on the job.

The Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study was a five-year research project aimed to improve the occupational safety and health of thoroughbred farm workers. The study was co-led by Jennifer Swanberg, PhD, professor, University of Maryland School of Social Work, and Jess Miller Clouser, MPH, research associate, the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. The project was funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the University of Kentucky Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention.

The research consisted of three phases, all of which were informed and guided by industry and community advisory councils:

  • 32 surveys and 26 in-depth interviews were conducted with farm owners, managers, and human resource personnel about the work environment and context of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers;
  • community-based surveys were conducted with 225 Latino thoroughbred farm workers about their experiences of the work environment and occupational injury and illness; and
  • an industry and community-engaged process was utilized to create educational materials based on study data to provide to farms and workers.

The research team is now releasing the three main educational materials resulting from this research. These materials are available on the project’s website at

The series of 12 bilingual, graphic safety illustrations may be used as a training booklet or safety posters and aims to help educate both English and Spanish-speaking workers about safety procedures on thoroughbred farms and provide a shared language of safety. To create the content of the illustrations, the research team convened a working group of eight industry representatives including farm managers from small, medium, and large thoroughbred farms; workers’ compensation and insurance representatives; human resource personnel; and communications associates. Iterative feedback was then obtained from more than 80 farm managers, safety professionals and Latino thoroughbred workers.


Randy Gilbert, the farm manager at Shawnee Farm in Harrodsburg, Ky., former president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club, and a member of the project’s Industry Advisory Council, was a participant in the working group that drafted the safety illustrations.

“At Shawnee Farm every year we have guys that come on visas to work with the horses and maintenance and communication is key for safety. These safety posters will definitely help with communication,” said Gilbert.

Laurette Durick, human resources manager at Godolphin, a global thoroughbred breeding and horse racing team in the United Arab Emirates, also served on both the project’s industry advisory council and working group for the safety illustrations.

“These safety posters and booklets are fantastic. This is a first of its kind, as I have never seen anything like this for horse handling and the equine industry,” said Durick.

Tom Evans, owner and manager of Trackside Farm, in Versailles, Ky., and a member of the safety illustration working group added, “I would wager that my employees are 100 times more likely to study an illustration versus read text.  I think the illustrations provoke thought and show our employees that somebody cares about their safety.”

In the in-depth interviews conducted with thoroughbred farm representatives, participants described promising practices they employed to help improve employee safety and well-being, especially among non-English speaking workers. The From the Field report details those practices as a vehicle for farms to learn from one another.

Participating farms often stated that they wanted to learn what the study’s findings were. Main findings have been summarized in a series of 10 research briefs that are organized by topic area (e.g., injuries, respiratory symptoms, communication, musculoskeletal discomfort) and are available at


All materials are accessible for free on the project website at As funding permits, printed copies of the materials may also become available.  For additional information or to be added to a wait list for printed materials, please contact Jennifer Swanberg,


*While these materials were created with and for the thoroughbred industry, they may be relevant to other occupational or recreational groups. The researchers provide permission for use of the materials in other disciplines, but do not imply that the procedures depicted are universally applicable to all industries or contexts.


How to Predict When a Mare Will Foal

How to Predict When a Mare Will Foal Most deliveries transpire smoothly with no ill effects. But when a problem does occur—even a simple issue such as an easily correctable dystocia (difficult birth)—things can go south rapidly.

For some breeders, the waiting game starts as soon as the mare is inseminated. For others, it starts when she’s confirmed in foal. Still for others, it starts when she her belly grows large. Whenever that waiting game starts, all breeders want to know: When will my mare foal?

Igor Canisso, DVM, MSc, PhD, Dipl. ACT, Dipl. ECAR, previously of the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center and now an assistant professor of equine theriogenology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, offered some tips on how to predict when a mare will foal.

Most deliveries transpire smoothly with no ill effects. But when a problem does occur—even a simple issue such as an easily correctable dystocia (difficult birth)—things can go south rapidly, Canisso said. Additionally, “in certain situations, we don’t want let the foal suckle on its dam due to risk of developing a condition such as neonatal isoerythrolysis,” or acute hemolytic anemia caused by ingesting antibodies in the mare’s colostrum and milk that are directed against the neonate’s red blood cells, he said.

“That’s why each foaling should be attended,” he explained. “If there is a simple problem, it can easily be corrected by an experienced foaling attendant. Or, if there is a more serious condition, the mare can be referred to a clinic, or a veterinarian can be called to check the mare.

“Usually, it is best not to wait (to call the veterinarian), as after 30 minutes from ‘water break,’ every 10-minute delay in foaling decreases the foal’s survival rate by 10%,” Canisso said.

And because the vast majority of foalings take place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., he said, it’s important to know when you might want to start brewing coffee for overnight foal watches.

Here are some of the options owners and veterinarians can use to predict when a mare will foal.

Estimated Foaling Date—The average equine gestation length is between 335 and 345 days. So you should be able to easily calculate your mare’s estimated foaling date if you know when she was bred. For example, if your mare was bred on Feb. 10 and has an average gestation, you can tentatively expect a foal between Jan. 12 and Jan. 22 of the following year. Canisso cautioned, however, that gestation length varies substantially between breeds, time of the year (it’s usually longer when the mare is due to foal in the late winter and early spring), and individual mares, so use this method only as a guide.

If you’re unsure of when your mare was bred, your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound exam to estimate the mare’s stage of pregnancy and calculate an estimated foaling date.

Physical Signs—As the mare’s due date approaches, start watching for physical signs indicating she’s preparing to foal, including:

  • Tailhead relaxation—Canisso noted this is harder to identify in overweight, heavily muscled, or maiden mares;
  • Vulva relaxation and elongation—Canisso cautioned that some older mares might have very pronounced vulvar relaxation well before foaling while others mares will show minimal or no appreciable changes, so don’t rely solely on this factor to predict foaling; and
  • Mammary gland enlargement—Canisso said most mares’ mammary glands will begin getting larger about a month before their due date, with the most notable changes in the last two weeks prior to foaling. Maiden mares might not show substantial udder enlargement until close to parturition, he said.

Canisso cautioned that maiden mares might not display the same physical signs as seasoned broodmares.

Mammary Gland Secretions—For the last three decades many veterinarians and breeders have used mares’ mammary gland secretion electrolyte levels to predict foaling. In the normal mare, the mammary gland secretion’s calcium and potassium levels rise while sodium decreases closer to foaling. However, measuring these electrolytes to predict foaling requires a machine to analyze the levels and serial measurements. Canisso said that, commonly, breeders and veterinarians have submitted these electrolyte samples to a laboratory, which can be expensive and prohibit the practice’s use for mares not located close to a laboratory–essentially, most mares in most regions.

Because calcium is the most reliable and commonly used electrolyte, commercial kits are now available for breeders to use to estimate the mammary secretions’ calcium carbonate content and, thus, help predict when the mare will or will not foal. The commercial calcium carbonate test’s limitations include the costs and required dilutions to obtain an accurate reading, said Canisso.

Recently, Canisso and colleagues tested another method by which to predict foaling using mammary gland secretions. This time, however, they measured the secretions’ pH levels. Using commercially available pH test strips, owners can test the mammary gland secretions once daily; when the normally slightly basic secretions (pH> 8) drop to below 7 on the pH scale, the mare will likely foal within 24 hours, Canisso said. In his recent study, 11 of 14 mares foaled within 24 hours when their mammary gland secretion pH levels were 7 or lower; the remaining three study mares foaled without significant pH changes, he said.

In the same study, Canisso and colleagues compared the secretions’ pH levels with their calcium, sodium, and potassium concentrations. They found that the pH measurements were equally as effective as electrolyte measurements at predicting foaling, suggesting that pH can replace electrolyte measurements, he said. Canisso also noted that measuring pH is advantageous over electrolytes because the tests cost less; are more practical, as no dilutions are needed to determine pH; and require only a small drop of secretion to complete—this is especially beneficial for maiden mares, he said, as many maiden mares have a very small amount of pre-foaling mammary gland secretions, making electrolyte measurement very difficult.

Electronic Devices—Next, Canisso described some electronic devices breeders can use to alert them to impending foaling:

  • The Foal-Alert is a magnetic device that a veterinarian sews into the mare’s vulva. When the magnets are separated as the vulva expands during foaling, an alert is sent to a pager or cell phone, or an alarm sounds in the barn. Canisso said while this device can be used successfully, it can also cause many false alarms. Additionally, the alarm might not sound if the foal is malpositioned in the uterus or if its feet don’t penetrate the mare’s vulva.
  • The Breeders’ Alert is a position-monitoring device shaped like a small box that attaches to the mare’s halter and sounds an alarm when it detects that the mare is in lateral recumbency (the position in which they deliver a foal) for more than 15 seconds. Like the Foal-Alert, Canisso said, this device causes a lot of false alarms.
  • The last device Canisso described is the Birth Alarm. Like the Breeders’ Alert, the Birth Alarm monitors a mare’s position; however this device is located on a surcingle. When the mare lies down for more than about 8 seconds, an alert is sent to the individual monitoring the mare. As with the other two devices, Canisso said this can throw false positives, and it might be cost-prohibitive for some breeders.

Video Monitoring Systems—Finally, Canisso noted that many breeders and veterinarians employ video monitoring systems that allow them to keep an eye on the mare for signs of foaling from afar.

So which method should breeders select? Canisso said many breeders opt for a combination of the available options to give themselves the best chance to accurately predict when a mare will foal.

“Since there isn’t a single and perfect way to predict foaling in all mares, the best approach is to combine different strategies to maximize the results,” he said.


Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

February is for Foal Sharing

February is for Foal Sharing
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

If you’re a breeder on a budget, a foal-share deal can lower both your front-end costs and your risk compared to the standard “live foal” contract. Front-end costs are lower because you pay nothing until the sale (typically at auction) of the foal produced from the arrangement. Downside risk and upside return are moderated, because the payment for stallion services is proportional (typically at 50%) to the sale price.

February is often a good time to approach stallion managers with foal-share propositions. The breeding season is gearing up, and if a stallion’s book is not full, his stallion manager is looking for ways to attract more mares. Foal-share deals are a time-honored approach to generating incremental revenues.

Finding foal-share seasons involves the same screening procedures that you go through when looking for live-foal or no-guarantee deals, but one part of the search process is turned on its head. Normally breeders are looking for “bargain” stallions that are underpriced relative to their prospects, but your chances of finding a foal share deal increase with the degree to which a stallion is overpriced. Managers of overpriced stallions are more likely to be amenable to foal-share deals to increase a stallion’s book, because they haven’t been able to sell sufficient seasons at the advertised price.

Identifying “overpriced” stallions is part art and part science. Though in today’s highly competitive market for mares, “deals” of all kinds are more plentiful than they were prior to the great recession. Stallions that are less likely to be candidates for foal-share deals include top-class, first-year stallions and stallions high on the leading sire lists. In contrast, third- and fourth-year stallions and stallions that are having atypically quiet years are prime candidates for foal shares.

Though third- and fourth-year stallions are especially risky propositions, the right choice can pay for mistakes. Breeders who signed on for fourth-year Storm Cat, Unbridled, Tapit  , or Super Saver   deals can attest to that. Finance professionals who look for “turnaround” candidates will appreciate quiet stallions. Moreover, a quiet stallion that has produced top-class runners is less likely to suffer from technological obsolescence than a corporation.

Most farms have a standard foal-share deal with respect to shared expenses, often splitting sale expenses and registrations. The most frequent 50-50 split means that foal-share breeders need to breed to a better stallion than what they would breed to if paying the stud fee. If you have an outstanding mare, you might expect that you can negotiate a better split, and occasionally you can, but more likely you will need to shop for a stallion that justifies giving up half the sales proceeds.

There are a variety of ways to start the screening process for foal-share prospects. For proven stallions, I work down from the top of my stallion list (see, arrayed by adjusted percentage of graded stakes winners, looking for likeable stallions that I consider overpriced. The most recent Jockey Club breeding statistics are also helpful. If a quality stallion bred less than 100 mares, his handlers may be looking for help.

Charismatic Dies

Charismatic | Shigeki Yusa


Charismatic (Summer Squall–Bali Babe, by Drone), winner of the 1999 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S., died Sunday at Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Kentucky. The cause of death is not known. The 21-year-old stallion had been repatriated to the U.S. after standing much of his stud career at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan. He arrived at Old Friends in early December.

“Right now, everyone is pretty much inconsolable,” said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. “Last night, at 6:30, he was fine. He was a really tough horse and he deserved a much longer retirement. But none of us, unfortunately, has a magic wand. Everyone at Old Friends takes solace from the few great months that this great champion gave us.”

Bred by Parrish Hill Farm and W. S. Farish, Charismatic was campaigned by Bob and Beverly Lewis and trained by D. Wayne Lukas. He graduated from the claiming ranks to capture the Derby as a 31-1 outsider and added the Preakness two weeks later. Favored to complete the Triple Crown sweep, the handsome chestnut suffered career-ending injuries just before the wire in the GI Belmont S. In an enduring image, jockey Chris Antley quickly dismounted and held Charismatic’s injured left front leg off the ground, preventing further damage and likely saving the colt’s life.

Charismatic was named champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 1999. On the board in 11 of 17 starts, he won five times and earned $2,038,064.

Charismatic began his stud career at Lane’s End in 2000 and stood there for three seasons before relocating to Japan in 2002. He is the sire of 2005 GII Pennsylvania Derby winner Sun King and multiple graded stakes winner Gouldings Green, as well as Japanese group winner Wonder Acute (Jpn).

Final Fair Grounds Horses Released From EHV-1 Quarantine

The final horses remaining in the testing protocols for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots have returned two negative tests and have been released back into the general horse population on the backstretch.

Since the first case of EHV-1 was reported on Dec. 26, any horse testing positive was promptly isolated under the protocols set forth by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and then required after 14 days to return two negative tests, not less than 72 hours apart, before being permitted back into the general horse population.

“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, USDA Veterinary Services and the Louisiana Racing Commission responded to an EHV-1 outbreak at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Track on Dec. 26, 2016,” said State Veterinarian Brent Robbins, D.V.M. “On Feb. 14, 2017, the last horse in isolation tested negative and was released after a prescribed observation period. We at the LDAF extend our appreciation to all agencies involved as well as horse owners, trainers and officials at the New Orleans Fair Grounds for their cooperation and understanding in dealing with this outbreak.”

As of Feb. 15, no horses remain in the EHV-1 testing protocols at Fair Grounds and all quarantine restrictions have been lifted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Louisiana Native Hernandez Has Momentum, Confidence on His Side

Hernandez Has Momentum, Confidence on His Side
Photo: Coady Photography

Brian Hernandez Jr.

Brian Hernandez Jr. is quick to give credit where credit is due.

In recalling his 2016 season, when he celebrated a career-high eight graded stakes wins and tallied his second highest single-season earnings, the 31-year-old jockey talked about the wave of good fortune that came his way. Good mounts make for even better outcomes and in that vein, Hernandez said he “got lucky and had the right kind of horses for the right races.”

Quietly yet methodically, the 2004 Eclipse Award winner for outstanding apprentice jockey has taken an already full career that boasts more than 1,600 victories and started adding some key intangibles to it.

A year ago, he rode in his first Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) aboard 12th-place finisher Tom’s Ready. By the end of the evening Feb. 11, he could be linked with a horse considered the leading contender this season for the first Saturday in May.

Hernandez has been in the eye of big-race hype before, but there is no buildup that quite compares with being attached to an unbeaten, graded stakes-winning 3-year-old about to take his first step on the Kentucky Derby trail. As the regular rider for Janis Whitham’s homebred colt McCraken, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, Hernandez could find his current groundswell of momentum dwarfed by what could come should his Ian Wilkes-trained mount prevail in his seasonal debut.

When Hernandez guided McCraken to victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs Nov. 26, it locked the son of Ghostzapper   in as a sophomore to watch for 2017 and sealed the best season for his jockey since he steered Fort Larned  —another Wilkes-trained, Whitham homebred—to victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The $7,791,059 in earnings Hernandez amassed in 2016 was second only to his career-best total of $8,034,048 four years earlier.

WINCZE HUGHES: McCraken the Real Deal in KY Jockey Club

The Kentucky Club Jockey Club triumph capped off a whirlwind stretch that saw the Louisiana native win three graded stakes in as many days. The other victories came aboard Thatcher Street in the Nov. 24 River City Handicap (G3T) and Linda in the Nov. 25 Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2T).

“You know, it just kind of snowballed,” Hernandez said of 2016. “Last year was one of the first years where I had multiple really good horses and won multiple graded races, and the momentum just kept building. Even last May, I was getting on a lot more 2-year-olds than I normally do.

“We had a really big year with the 2-year-olds and some of the older horses I had been riding, they kind of stepped up and won a couple graded races. … And to have the owners put the confidence in me to ride their better horses, it helps a lot and that’s the biggest thing.”

Hernandez’s ability has long been acknowledged as a solid presence on the Louisiana and Kentucky circuits, not that anyone could ignore him much after he racked up 243 wins during his Eclipse Award-winning season. It often takes a fortuitous pairing for an upstart jockey to gain access to that next, elite level, however. Appropriately enough, Hernandez cites his association with Fort Larned as that catalyst.

He gained the mount on the future multiple grade 1 winner in the 2012 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3), when the colt’s previous rider, Julien Leparoux, was committed to pilot Successful Dan in the same spot. The chemistry was instant as Hernandez booted Fort Larned to victory both that day and during his subsequent start in the Whitney Invitational Handicap (G1) in the run-up to their Breeders’ Cup heroics.

MITCHELL: Fort Larned Wins Thrilling BC Classic

In addition to notching the first grade 1 victories of his career, Hernandez was also building a relationship with the Wilkes barn that has evolved him into the go-to rider for the former assistant to Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger.

“He understands what I’m trying to do, and he’s a great asset to my barn in helping and developing horses,” Wilkes said. “He’s good and he just knows how to put a horse in position to win a race.”

“It’s been a great working relationship, because riding for guys like Ian and Carl, they entrust me on some of the better horses and they’re easy to talk to,” Hernandez added. “It makes it to where it’s a team effort, where you don’t have any pressure going forward, like ‘Oh man, if I mess this up, I might not get another chance.’ With Ian and Carl, they are always behind you. Even in the big races … it’s ‘Let’s look at the bigger picture and get them to the next step.'”

Wilkes has plainly stated that the Sam F. Davis is not the end goal for McCraken. He doesn’t want the bay colt coming too much into his own before the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Hernandez has already compiled a career dotted with successes many will never get to the opportunity to experience. Like his late-running mount, momentum has been his friend in recent times, a powerful surge brought on by inherent talent that is being given a chance to reach a career pinnacle.

“We’re just going to try and get McCraken (to the Derby) and let him showcase how good he is,” Hernandez said. “I think the biggest thing we have to do is make sure it’s not any of us that stops him from running his best race. Just stay out of his way and let him take us there. But it’s excitement, really. There is no nervousness.”


 OPELOUSAS, LA – Evangeline Downs’ 2017 Thoroughbred racing season will begin on Wednesday, April 12 and continue through Saturday, September 2. There will be 84 days of live racing run on a Wednesdaythrough Saturday weekly schedule during the season.

All horsemen interested in submitting a stall application to Evangeline Downs must do so by Friday, February 24. To obtain a stall application, horsemen can visit the website and click on the “Horsemen’s Info” tab at the top of the homepage. To contact Evangeline Downs directly, horsemen can call the racing office at 337-594-3000.

The highlight events on the Evangeline Downs Thoroughbred racing schedule include the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track on Saturday, June 3 and Louisiana Legends Night on Saturday, July 8, which will feature eight Louisiana-bred stakes races with purses totaling $750,000

The Evangeline Mile program will also include two other stakes races: the $50,000 Need For Speed Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf and the $50,000 Lafayette Stakes for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on the main track.

Louisiana Legends Night, a celebration of the Louisiana-bred Thoroughbred, is highlighted by the $100,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up at 1-1/16 miles on the main track. There will be six other $100,000 stakes races on Legends Night: the Distaff for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 1-1/16 miles on the main track, the Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at 5-½ furlongs on the main track, the Mademoiselle for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 5-½ furlongs on the main track, the Turf for 3-year-olds and up at 1-1/16 miles on the turf, the Cheval for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track, and the Soiree for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the main track. There will also be the $50,000 Starter for 3-year-olds at up at 7-½ furlongs on the turf.

The full 2017 Stakes Schedule is still pending official approval from the Louisiana Racing Commission.

First post time for each live racing night at Evangeline Downs for the 2017 Thoroughbred season will be 5:40 pm Central Time.

For more information on the American Quarter Horse season at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website at Evangeline Downs’ Twitter handle is @EVDRacing and the racetrack is also accessible on Facebook at


About Evangeline Downs

Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel is owned by Boyd Gaming Corporation, a leading diversified owner and operator of 22 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Boyd Gaming press releases are available at  Additional news and information can be found at, or


Think Before You Reach for an NSAID for Your Horse

Why You Should Consider Reaching Out to Your Veterinarian Before Reaching for an NSAID.
Equine lameness seems to happen at the most inopportune times, and it’s one of the main reasons for removing a horse from athletic activity. When lameness appears, horse owners are often quick to reach for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In fact, a survey found 82 percent of horse owners use NSAIDs without consulting their veterinarian.1 But that may not be the smart move.

“It’s important for horse owners to consult their veterinarian before giving an NSAID,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, Senior Manager, Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services. “The best option – and the shortest path back to soundness – may be a medication, treatment or protocol the horse owner hasn’t considered.”

“In addition, no medication is without risks,” says Cheramie. “Your veterinarian is the best person to help you monitor your horse’s health for potential side effects or lack of efficacy. Keeping your veterinarian involved, even if it’s just informing them of your treatment decision, will provide them with important information in the future if the issue comes up again.”

Your equine veterinarian considers many factors before prescribing any treatment, including an NSAID:

  • What is the horse’s history?
  • Is the diagnosis a simple lameness or could it be something else?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • What is the horse owner’s budget and resources?

If your veterinarian does recommend an NSAID, they’ll take into consideration:

  • Has this horse been given this medication before?
  • What dosage should the horse receive, and what is the best route of administration?
  • What are the potential side effects of the treatment or medication?

The decision-making process can be complex, which is why most equine NSAIDs are available only with a prescription. If for some reason your horse does have a reaction or fails to improve, ensuring your veterinarian is fully aware of the situation will be a benefit.

Regardless of discipline, when your horse is lame, it can impact not only your short-term competitive goals but also your horse’s long-term health. So, before you reach for that old tube or bottle, talk to your veterinarian about all of your options to help effectively manage lameness, pain and inflammation in your horse.

1Andrews F, McConnico R. Cause for concern: Evidence that therapeutic dosing of nonselective NSAIDs contributes to gastrointestinal injury. Equine Vet Education. 2009;21(12):663-664.
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