Hollywood and the movies are not the only lure out west for a young man looking to make a name and career for themselves. It can also be the Sport of Kings, our great game of thoroughbred racing.
Such is the case for young apprentice rider Heriberto Figueroa. The 18 year old rider has been at Gulfstream Park catching the eye of knowledgeable horsemen and fans alike riding like someone both beyond his years and level of experience. He has been under the mentor of the great Angel Cordero Jr. who knows a thing or two about both race riding and bringing along young jockeys.
Angel saw talent in young Heriberto and he hasn’t disappointed. While the original plan was for Heriberto Figueroa to go to New York following his gaining some experience at Gulfstream that has changed and the young rider is heading west to ride at Santa Anita. His book will be handled by Erick Nelson Arroyo, who was extremely influential in orchestrating the successful comeback of his brother Norberto Arroyo which led to his winning the leading rider title at Del Mar in the fall and riding a slew of horses and winners at every level of the game.
Erick, a former rider himself who was sidelined by a back injury has a keen eye for riders. He was contacted about young Figueroa and immediately went to watch some film on the jockey.
” I was told by a long time friend that Heriberto reminded him of my brother Norberto who is just a natural talent in the saddle. That got my attention and I watched video of Heriberto. I really liked what I saw as he had a nice touch, a good seat on a horse and I could tell he was thinking about what he was doing on a horse. I saw him on the pace and clocking the other horses both inside and outside of him. Having ridden myself, I always think what I would do in a situation and Heriberto did exactly what I would have and rode like a more experienced rider would. He didn’t jump the gun like a lot of apprentices would have. He waited and saved his horse letting out just a notch and was throwing crosses and switching sticks like he had been riding for years. I really liked what I saw. I am excited for him to arrive and I’ve already got plans in mind for him. “
Heriberto Figueroa graduated the famed Escuela La Vocacional Hípica in Puerto Rico. He was at the top of his class. After seeing the success of Evin Roman in Southern California which led to an Eclipse Award for leading apprentice in 2017 Heriberto decided to go west as opposed to New York which was the original plan. Heriberto has been successful thus far at Gulfstream and won with his 5th US mount. It is always exciting for the game to see new talent and watch careers develop.