11/27/2012 4:59PM

Fair Grounds: A veteran at 24, Colby Hernandez steps up his game

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The name Hernandez still is flitting about the minds of racing-oriented folks, what with Brian Hernandez Jr. winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned. Another member of the Hernandez clan, Colby, is hoping to raise his own profile this winter.

Colby Hernandez, 24 and three years younger than brother Brian, has hung his tack at Fair Grounds this winter for the first time in his career. Hernandez has usually spent his winters on the other side of Louisiana, riding the meet at Delta Downs.

“I wanted to try something new this year,” Colby said last weekend. “I’d like to try and get to Kentucky at some point.”

Hernandez’s career began in 2006 and has unfolded almost entirely in Louisiana. While still an apprentice in 2007, he rode for a short time at Churchill Downs, winning two races, before getting homesick and coming back to Louisiana. Hernandez, who won the 2008 riding title at Evangeline Downs, has won 827 races during his career while booting home winners at a 14 percent clip. He is hoping to use another strong Evangeline meet this past summer, when he won 87 races to finish second to Diego Saenz in the standings there, as a springboard to Fair Grounds success.

Hernandez, represented by agent Jerry Reites, rode just one winner during the meet’s first four days, but got 25 mounts opening week and had two seconds and a third to go with his winner while not riding many short-priced horses. He is out every morning – working eight or nine horses a day – and remains an enthusiastic, balanced participant in all phases of the sport.

“I still love it – all of it,” Hernandez said.