Jockey Diego Herrera is only seventeen years old but is mature well beyond his years. When you see Diego on a horse or listen to an interview there is nothing that tells you that he is only seventeen. The fact is he is and has a bright future ahead of him.
Herrera says he started riding horses very young at eight-years-old. “My family has always been into horses so I kind of grew up around them. My Dad started to own racehorses when I was around 8 years old. My Dad owned horses in Long Beach at the River Bead and Lost Alamitos.”
When asked why he is so mature at only 17-years-old. The aspiring jockey explained “My Mother and Father always told me that a well-behaved man and mature young man fits anywhere he walks in. My Father taught me my manners and how to always be professional. My Grandparents taught me how to talk to elderly people and how to respect anyone from any race or color. I owe a lot to them.”
Herrera’s first official race came earlier this year at Los Alamitos on February 20th racing Quarter Horses. He would soon start riding Thoroughbreds as well. With starts few and far between, Herrera got his first official win on April 9th of this year. It was with a Thoroughbred named Tomasino. Mounts started to pick up and became more consistent around that time. Diego has a full schedule working out horses in the morning, racing Thoroughbreds during the day, and racing Quarter Horses at night.
Herrera raced in more than 600 races combined since he started earlier this year. That includes Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, and mixed breed races. He is winning at 12% and has been in the money over 41% of the time.
We asked Herrera about his strengths and weaknesses as a rider. “I think my biggest strength as a rider is coming off the pace. I’ve gotten better with each horse I ride. I’m pretty good at knowing how much horse I have left to be able to catch the speed. I need to work on becoming a better turf rider. I think I need to pay more attention to the grass, focusing and getting better which will take some time. Hopefully at Santa Anita I can ride more turf races and become better.”
Diego Herrera is a bright spot for the sport on and off the track. With his talent, attitude, and outlook it would be great if Diego Herrera becomes one of the most recognizable faces and names of the jockey colony and the sport we love. It will be fun to watch his career unfold in the years to come.