Hernandez Goes Inside on ‘Falcon’ To Capture La Jolla

August 6, 2023

Maltese Falcon victorious in the La Jolla Handicap (Benoit Photo)

Pushiness Pushes off Rivals for CTBA Stakes Victory

Del Mar Press Release

DEL MAR, Calif.— For the second day in a row, riding one race on the card was all leading rider Juan Hernandez needed to find his way to the winner’s circle again at Del Mar.

Sunday, he slipped through on the fence to guide the maiden Maltese Falcon, owned by the father/son team of Jed Cohen (Red Baron Barn) or Tim Cohen (Rancho Temescal), to a one-length tally in the 82nd edition of the Grade III La Jolla Handicap on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.  

The day before he pulled off a similar one-length score on Adare Manor in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on the main track with his only mount of the afternoon.

The rider had been set down for three days for a previous riding infraction and was only allowed to ride in designated races this weekend. He made his two efforts pay off in spades with his double stakes victories. He now has won 15 races through the first 11 days of the meet and once more sits atop the riders’ standings.

His Sunday tally on the Irish-bred gelding by Caravaggio saw him earn the winner’s share of $90,000 from the $151,500 purse of the La Jolla. The winnings pushed Maltese Falcon’s total earnings to $135,948 and gave him a record of one win, two seconds and two thirds in seven lifetime starts. He is trained by Leonard Powell.

Maltese Falcon was a lukewarm favorite in the mile and one-sixteenth headliner and returned $8.40 to his backers.

Finishing second in the La Jolla was Hronis Racing’s Panic Alarm, who had a nose on Muir Hut Stables’ Agency.

Earlier on the card, Repole Stable’s Pushiness simply outfooted six rivals in the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes, scoring by a length and three quarters after leading all the way under rider Umberto Rispoli.

Stakes Quotes

JUAN HERNANDEZ (Maltese Falcon, winner) – “(Trainer) Leonard Powell told me this horse has a really good kick at the end. I was really patient with him. My horse he wanted to run around the three-eighths (pole), but I didn’t have space to come through, so I decided to stay the longest I can. Finally, around the eighth pole I got lucky because the rail opened for me. He was really brave today. He responded to me.”

LEONARD POWELL (Maltese Falcon, winner)  “I didn’t give any special instructions to Juan. He’s a top-class jockey and he watched the videos. I just gave him a few facts about the horse and after that it was all Juan. He put him in a good spot in the pocket and the main thing is that he waited for the opening. And the other main factor is the opening did happen and the horse was good enough.”

Trainer Powell won his first La Jolla with 10 Del Mar stakes wins on his resume.

Pushiness Pushes off Rivals for CTBA Stakes Victory

Pushiness pulls clear of her rivals in the CTBA (Benoit Photo)

By Maribeth Kalinich

Repole Stables’ Pushiness keeps a perfect record following up her Santa Anita debut win with a gate-to-wire 1-3/4 length victory in the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes earring Black Type and a nice portion of the $125,000 purse.

Michael McCarthy trainee Pushiness broke inward but quickly recovered and eagerly cleared, drafted in towards the rail leaving the far turn and set a rated pace under Umberto Rispoli. Grand Slam Smile (Frank Alvarado) and Putt for Dough (Mario Gutierrez) challenged as the field set a super speed :22 flat first quarter.

Crazy Hot under Geovanni Franco moved up to challenge with Grand Slam Smile past the quarter pole, but Pushiness kicked away after being put to a ride soon after, was kept alert with a right-handed ask leaving the sixteenth pole then held firm under a steady hand ride to the wire.

Putt for Doug finished fourth 4-1/3 lengths back with Fly a Fantasy with Mike Smith up missing that position by a head.

Stay Quiet and Stealthespotlight complete the order of finish in the 5-1/2-furlong sprint. It’s Saul Good was scratched by the veterinarian. 

Fractions were 45.25 one 57.96 with a final time of 1:04.75, the record of 1:01.86 having been set by Speed Boat Beach September 10, 2022.

Pushiness paid $3.20, 2.60 and 2.10; Grand Slam Smile $3.20 and 2.40 with Crazy Hot offering $2.60 for show.

Bred in California by Richard Barton Enterprises, the 2-year-old bay filly is sired by Kantharos out of Imperial Pippin, by Empire Maker.

This was the third stakes win of the meet for rider Rispoli, his first for trainer McCarthy and first in the CTBA. He had 21 stakes wins overall at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first in the CTBA for the McCarthy, his sixth overall at Del Mar.

Stakes Quotes

UMBERTO RISPOLI (Pushiness (winner) – “She’s fast; this filly is really fast. She went away from there very quick, and I took a little hold of her. But she kept going fast. When we went into the turn, I saw her ears go up, so I knew she was relaxed. These young ones usually want to wait on other horses, but she was a runner all the way. I think she’s go farther, too. I’m glad I won it for another Italian (referring to Mike Repole of New York, who races under Repole Stable and owns Pushiness).”

FELIPE RIVERA (Assistant trainer for Mike McCarthy on Pushiness, winner)  “She ran the same way she did at Santa Anita. You break out of the gate and go. She has such nice speed, and she was just cruising. No, we don’t know (where she will go next). Let’s see how she comes out of the race. We’ll evaluate and go from there.”  (Trainer McCarthy was in Kentucky.)

Racing will resume at Del Mar on Thursday with a first post of 2 p.m.

Louis & @ItsMeGinoB talk next w/@jonathanstettin about today’s races & the amazing Ruffian piece he wrote this week. twitter.com/PastTheWire/st…

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