Apprentice jockeys Carlos Hernandez and Alvaro Donis recorded their first career victories Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
The 18-year-old Hernandez guided C D Gold to a front-running score in the third race, while the 24-year-old Donis rode Lovely Elle to an off-the-pace triumph in the sixth race.
Hernandez, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, sent the Jorge Navarro-trained 5-2 second betting choice to the lead out of the gate in the 5 ½-furlong claiming race, opening up a four-length lead on the turn into the stretch before continuing on through the stretch to earn a visit to the winner's circle on his 12th career mount.
“It feels great to win my first race,” said Hernandez through an interpreter.
Hernandez, who attended a Puerto Rico jockey school for two years and competed in 11 trial races before venturing to the U.S. to launch his riding career, returned to the Gulfstream jockey's room to enthusiastic applause and a bombardment of water, baby powder and shaving cream from his fellow riders.
Lovely Elle recovered from a stumble on the far turn in the sixth race before being guided to the outside by Donis and kicking in through the stretch run of the five-furlong turf race to win by a half length.
“I'm very happy. This is a dream come true,” said Donis, who galloped horses for trainer Allen Iwinski for three years before deciding to pursue a career as a jockey.
A native of Guatemala, the married father of a daughter recorded his first victory on his 25th mount, an Iwinski-trained 13-1 long shot.
I told the kid all along when he was working for me that he has a future. He's naturally light. He can make any weight and he's a real athlete,” Iwinski said. “I'm glad he was able to win his first race on one of our horses.”
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