Legendary New York trainer Mike Hernandez dies

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

The late Mike Hernandez (center, holding trophy) retired in November 2011 at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

Ramon “Mike” Hernandez, trainer of scores of stakes winners and oldest active trainer at New York Racing Association tracks when he retired in November 2011, died at the age of 99 Sunday.

A native of Union de San Antonio Jalisco, Mexico, Hernandez started his long career in racing in 1944 when Hipodromo de las Americas opened in Mexico City. He started training in 1951 and enjoyed a successful career in his native country before moving permanently to the United States in the 1970s.

Mentored in his early days by Cecil Locklear, Laz Barrera and Pancho Martin, Hernandez managed Cleremont Farms in Germantown, N.Y., before opening up a public stable in 1976. He trained in the U.S from 1976 to 2011, winning 603 races from 5,419 starts and his horses earned $18,820,126, according to Daily Racing Form statistics.

Legendary New York breeder and owner Dr. Dominick DeLuke, owner of Assunta Louis Farms, contributed to Hernandez’s success. Hernandez trained several stakes winners for DeLuke, including Fratello Ed, Sir Prove It and Vandy Sue. The latter gave Hernandez his lone graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap in 1978 at Aqueduct. Vandy Sue also won the 1976 New York Breeders Fillies and New York Breeders Futurity at Finger Lakes.

Other stakes winners trained by Hernandez included Adirondack Holme, Artistic Express, Beautiful America, Classic Pack and Luck. Hernandez also trained for owners John Hettinger, Chester and Mary Broman and others during his career.

Hernandez’s family brought his body to Barn 76 at Saratoga Race Course Sunday, where they “placed Call to Post, we told him it was ‘rider’s up’ while singing his favorite songs,” his family said. “He gave us a beautiful sunset for his last ‘race’ on the Oklahoma Training Track.”

Hernandez is survived by his wife of 71 years, Mary; his three daughters, Teresa (Charles) Schirmer, Cathalene Hagney and Mary (George) Segarra; his son Michael Bowles; his four sisters Lupe, Amparo, Carmen and Matilde; his brother Carlos; over 100 nieces and nephews, his cat Happy and squirrels Ramon and Suzie.

Hernandez’s funeral procession will form 9:30 am Wednesday at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home Inc. in Saugerties, N.Y. Procession will continue to the St. Mary of the Snow Church for a 10 a.m. funeral mass. Burial will follow in the Blue Mountain Cemetery. Visitation will be from 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Read more about Mike Hernandez from the pages of The Saratoga Special:

West Point preview: Classic Redux

School Days: Classic Pack knocks off mates with big finish in NY-bred stakes. Page 14.


One Response to “Legendary New York trainer Mike Hernandez dies”

  1. Peter Penny says:

    Mike was a terrific trainer and more importantly a wonderful man. I was so fortunate to get to know him when I managed Akindale Farm. We were lucky to have him train many of our homebreds . He was a class act in every way. He will be sorely missed by everyone who had the privilege to have gotten to know him. My condolences to his lovely wife Mary and the entire Hernandez family.

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