“Hats Off to the Horses” has kicked off the New Year in style with a third hat up for bid that honors Kentucky-bred multiple grade winner, Yankee Fourtune!
We’re celebrating our seventh consecutive year of “Hats Off”, an annual Derby hat fundraiser that benefits the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in KY, and and we are delighted this season to have jockey Brian Hernandez, his wife Jamie and their little girl Joshlyn joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us!
This month Jamie modeled the spectacular “Yankee Fourtune” chapeau that you can read about by visiting the Yankee Fourtune hat webpage.
Jamie’s husband, Brian Hernandez Jr., is one of horse racing’s leading riders, earning the 2004 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and a victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned.
Jamie, the daughter of Ohio trainer, Jake Radosevich, has spent her entire life around horses and the race track, and is also a professional photographer with an Eclipse Media Eclipse Award for Photography (2013) to her credit.
I recently got the chance to interview Jamie and Brian following their photo shoot at Old Friends for the “Yankee Fourtune” chapeau.
Steinmann: Jamie and Brian, welcome to my Hats and Horses blog! We are thrilled to have you join our “Hats Off” team to support the retired racehorses of Old Friends. It’s great to catch up with you and ask you a few questions for this special Q&A.
For those who are meeting you two here for the first time, where were each of you born and where did you grow up?
Jamie Hernandez: I was born in Joliet, Illinois and grew up in Grove City, Ohio.
Brian Hernandez: I was born in Lafayette, La and I grew up there.
Sally: What are your earliest memories of a horse? Did you both ride when you were little?
Jamie: I had a pony that my parents used as their stable pony whose name was Gunner that I remember riding when I was little. I also had a mini pony that I used to race up and down the pasture in front of our house daily with no saddle or bridle, just a halter and a lead shank.
Brian: Growing up we had a mule “Lady” and a Palomino pony named “Goldie” that we used for trail riding. I was 11 when I rode my first match race at the bush tracks in Louisiana on a pony.
Sally: Brian, I read that your dad is also a jockey. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a jockey? Was there anyone who especially inspired or helped you along the way with your career?
Brian: I realized I wanted to be a jockey when I would go to races with my family where my dad rode. Dale Angelle was the first person I went to work for on the farm and that is whom my dad worked for and rode for. I learned how to ride race horses out on his farm. My dad was a big influence as well as I worked alongside him and watched the way he interacted with horses and people.
Sally: Brian, you’ve had an amazing career in racing, winning the Champion Apprentice Eclipse Award in 2004 and also American’s richest race, the 2012 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned. What would you like to accomplish in the coming year?
Brian: I would like to accomplish continued success. As jockeys we work everyday to find the next horse to ride and try to find and ride successful horses.
Sally: Brian, you have ridden some incredibly talented racehorses to victory over the years like Fort Larned, Departing and Rachel. Do you have any favorites among them?
Brian: Fort Larned is my favorite. He gave me the chance to take my career to another level and ride in some of the biggest races.
Sally: Brian, being a jockey means early mornings and a lot of travel. Tell me, what would be the perfect day to you?
Brian: Getting up in the morning, working a few horses, coming home to my daughter, going back to the races, hopefully winning races and then coming home safely to my family.
Jamie: Growing up in a racing family was very rewarding to me. I have always had so much love for animals, especially horses. Looking back now we were a very close family and it allowed us to spend a lot of time together and bond as a family. My brothers and I grew up working on the farm. Having that work ethic installed in us from such a young age I think set us apart from a lot of kids that may not have had that kind of responsibility.
Sally: Jamie, I also know that you worked for both Steve Asmussen and Steve Margolis in the past. Are you working with any particular stable right now?
Jamie: Yes, I worked for both Steve’s, but I’m currently a full time mommy to Joshlyn and we are expecting baby Hernandez #2 in July.
Sally: Wow! This is wonderful news, how does Joshlyn feel about having a new baby sister or brother?
Sally: Jamie, in 2013 you received the Media Eclipse Award for Photography with your photo of 2012 Horse of Year Wise Dan and jockey John Velazquez racing to the finish line in the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs. How did you achieve such amazing effects during that rainstorm?
Jamie: I call that a lucky photo, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time under those rainy conditions. We work with such high tech cameras and equipment these days, it makes our jobs easy.
Sally: Jamie, you have described photography as your “second career”. Can you tell us a little bit about that??
Jamie: I am not currently working for anybody as the racing season has ended in Kentucky. I worked for Reed Palmer Photography and that’s where I took the Wise Dan photo at Churchill Downs. I call photography my second career because it’s something I started doing when I was still an assistant trainer. I would work in the mornings, then go to work for Reed in the afternoons at Churchill. In 2012 I wasn’t even working full time for Reed, I was a newbie just taking pictures when I could or when our assistant was out of town. Now I work full time when the racing meet is going on and take pictures daily at the track.
Sally: How did the two of you meet, and where are you living now?
Sally: The two of you had a beautiful baby girl named Joshlyn a little over a year ago. Tell me, how has your life changed since Joshlyn was born, and how do you manage the juggle of family with traveling so much for the racing?
Jamie: Life has changed for the better. We are a lot more settled and obviously our responsibilities have changed. She’s our number one priority so basically it’s Joshlyn’s world. Joshlyn is a great sport; we travel a lot with Brian to racing as long as it is close to our house in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s became a great traveler and goes with the flow.
Sally: Jamie, I have to ask you about Doc, your special horse that you post about so often on Facebook. Tell us about him, he looks like such a sweetheart. I especially love the video of Joshlyn on Doc’s back with her Daddy holding onto her, it’s priceless!
Jamie: Doc is so special. He’s my favorite horse and a once in a lifetime horse. He’s 17 years old now and I have owned him since he was three years old. My father bought him for me out of a horse sale in Ohio. I used him for years as a pony horse at the races and he traveled with me when I worked for Asmussen and was one of our stable ponies. He’s so kind to Joshlyn and she prefers him over little ponies. She loves to ride him and feed him peppermints.
Sally: Do you own any other horses?
Jamie: I actually do own another Quarter horse named Cutter and he lives at my parents’ farm. He was a Christmas present when I was younger. He is 14 years old now, we’ve had him since he was a weanling. I prefer Doc over Cutter because Doc is bomb proof, anyone can ride him, and you don’t have to worry about him bucking and acting out as Cutter may do sometimes.
Sally: How was the photo shoot for the “Yankee Fourtune” hat at Old Friends? Joshlyn looked like the perfect hat model, and she looked adorable modeling our very first hat from the new “Little Silver Charm Kids’ Hat Collection”. I’m curious if it was as easy as it looked?
Jamie: I thought the photo shoot was great and went very easily. Matt and Wendy are AMAZING! Yankee Fourtune was a perfect gentleman so he made our photos great!
Jamie: Yes, we did meet little Silver Charm and we obviously had to introduce him to Joshlyn!
Jamie: I LOVE wearing hats for Derby!! The last few years I have been working the Derby so I haven’t been able to!
Sally: People are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends thru’ our “Hats Off” Derby hat fundraiser. Why is it important for us to support these retired Thoroughbred athletes, and do you have any suggestions for how people can get involved and participate in helping the retired racehorses, too?
Jamie: I think it’s important to support the retired athletes. If we all don’t help, then who is going to? There are so many retired racehorses that could use the help even if they haven’t reached top of the racing world. There is a lot that can be done to ensure they are fed and taken well care of to live out their lives. People can obviously donate to these causes but they can also donate their time. Many organizations are always looking for hands on volunteers to help with the horses’ daily care.
Brian: It’s important that people support the retired racehorse because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have our livelihood that we love so much. They are what keeps this racing game going, so we need to help.
Sally: Jamie and Brian, thanks again for helping us with our Seventh Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Yankee Fourtune” chapeau. We are really fortunate to have you on board as part of our “Hats Off” team!
And to my readers, please enjoy this “behind-the-scenes” video from the “Yankee Fourtune” photo shoot with Brian and Jamie at Old Friends, a special treat from our friends Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos!
Happy New Year everybody!
About the auction:
The “Yankee Fourtune” auction hat is currently up for bid on EBay. Bidding ends Tuesday, January 12th at 8 PM EST.