Who is Brian Hernandez? What to know about Mystik Dan’s Kentucky Derby-winning jockey | Sporting News

Who is Brian Hernandez? What to know about Mystik Dan’s Kentucky Derby-winning jockey | Sporting News

Led by his humble steed — and a smart bit of strategy — Brian Hernandez etched his name in Kentucky Derby history Saturday night.

The Louisiana native took his place among the stars in eye-catching fashion, leading Mystik Dan to glory with a photo finish at the 2024 iteration of the Run for the Races. It couldn’t have been any closer — Mystik Dan just outpaced Sierra Leone and Forever Young to capture the gold.

“This is unbelievable,” Hernandez said. “That was the longest few minutes I’ve ever felt in my life, waiting for them to hang that number up. … It’s hard to put into words.”

In the process, Hernandez added to his family’s rich legacy in the world of horse racing. To reach a career summit after 20 years as a jockey is one thing. To do so when riding swirls in your blood is an entirely different proposition.

With that, here’s what you need to know about Hernandez, one of just eight jockeys to capture both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in the same year.

MORE: How much prize money does the Kentucky Derby winner get in 2024?

Who is Brian Hernandez?

Hernandez spearheaded Mystik Dan’s ascent to the upper echelons of racing lore, pushing his thoroughbred out in front with frantic instructions. Hernandez’s impressive tactical acumen, coupled with his charger’s natural athleticism, that brought trainer Kenny McPeek and owners Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby and 4G Racing to victory lane.

He isn’t entirely new to making history. Hernandez led stallion Fort Larned to victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He also has an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in his treasure chest. That chest got a whole lot glitzier Saturday, however, when he raced out in front and held off menacing runs by Sierra Leone and Forever Young to take his place in the history books.

“Around the far turn, my horse was so game being up on the inside,” Hernandez said after the race. “I came through a really tight spot and we kind of climbed up on top of the rail a bit. When he shot through that spot and was able to cut the corner and I asked him to go for it, he shot off. I was like, ‘Oh man, we have a shot to win the Kentucky Derby.’”

Hernandez isn’t the first member of his family to find joy atop the back of a thoroughbred. That status belongs to his father, Brian Sr., who enjoyed a lengthy if unspectacular career as a rider in the southern Louisiana horse-racing circuit.

And he’s not the only family member to follow in his father’s footsteps. His brother, Colby and sister, Courtney, also gravitated to the the stables, earning $58.1 million and $1.2 million in career earnings, respectively.

“This is a lifetime achievement, this goes to our whole family,” Hernandez said. “To be able to live that dream that I had when I was a 6-year-old kid, riding my bike around my grandparents farm and telling them I was going to win the Kentucky Derby one day, well, here we are.”

The win for Mystik Dan at the Kentucky Derby cemented the first Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double by a jockey since 2009. He won Friday’s Kentucky Oaks with 3-year-old filly Thorpedo Anna.

MORE: Explaining the origin of Mystik Dan’s name

Brian Hernandez career earnings

Hernandez has made $127,481,788 over the course of his career, according to America’s Best Racing.

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