Herberto (Herbie) Hinojosa, Jr., 83, of Brownsville, passed away on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at his Residence in Brownsville.
When Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron was asked to describe Herbie Hinojosa, his response was, “Have you ever heard the phrase, “rode hard and put away wet?" We can only guess that Mr. McCarron was referring to the veteran’s rugged appearance which was a testimony to his toughness and endurance.
He was born Herberto Hinojosa to a second generation Mexican-American family in South Texas. Mr.Herberto Sr. and Julia Hinojosa reared six sons and two daughters in El Ranchito, Texas. His widow Hilda Duran currently resides in Brownsville, Texas,
Through his first marriage, he raised Linda, Becky (residing in Oklahoma), and Herbie III (deseased). His youngest was jockey Charles (Chuck) Hinojosa (deceased ) who was killed on the Charles Town racetrack in 1984. In his second marriage he had Michael Hinojosa and Tina Hinojosa, both living in Revere, Massachusetts. Other children were Emily living in California and Linda Patterson Scheihing from Alexandria Virginia.
Racing in the Bush League as an eight year old, he dropped out of Brownsville’s Longoria Elementary school fifth grade class only to be raised by his horse racing promoters. When Herbie began his career in the 1950’s, there were only a handful of Latino jockeys trying to find their way into a non-Hispanic participating sport Herbie were born in the U. S, but Hinojosa was given the distinction of being the first born and raised American rider. Today there are roughly 1,000 Latino jockeys racing regularly in the United States.
The tiny, Texas born saddle star had blossomed into the hottest rider on the Florida circuit. The poorman’s jockey was destroying the rich Florida circuit of Tropical Park and Hialeah as the perennial leading rider for two seasons. At Chicago, Herbie tied Willie Shoemaker’s Arlington record of winning six in a card in 1963. The remarkable jockey repeated the feat two more times and added five wins in a card twice. He achieved his highest score of second place finish in the1974 Preakness. Herbie went on to ride in two more Triple Crown Races.
At his home base in Laurel, Maryland, he ruled as the leading rider. Canada’s Woodbine Park saw the sensational invader take leading riding honors as well as participating in Canada’s Queen’s Plate four times. He was the leading stakes rider in the world when he defeated the great Bill Shoemaker riding one of the greatest horses of all time, Native Diver. Herbie defeated “The Shoe” in his Santa Anita house as he stole two of California’s Triple Crown races. One of Herbie’s greatest accomplishments was winning the World’s Richest Race, the 1963 Arlington Washington Futurity. He was also victorious in the second richest race as an underdog. In 1965 The bettors of the Pimlico Futurity had him with fifty to one odds.
When it was all over he had participated in seventy-five tracks all across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. During his career, he performed in venues ranging from small five-eighths rings to the Barnum-like exaggerations of the Kentucky Derby. At the end of his career, he was ranked thirty-first all-time when he won three thousand Thoroughbred races. Over one hundred of his victories were graded stakes. During his lifetime he was known to have mentored newcomers like Chris McCarron, Kent Desormeaux, Vince Bracciale, and Julie Krone. Besides daily newspaper articles and racing publications, Herbie’s name appeared in ten different issues of Sports Illustrated magazine.
Terry Meyocks, currently the National Manager at The Jockeys Guild was ten years old when his father Paul (Meyocks) Blair was booking Herbie. Terry described Herbie Hinojosa, “ Was a national icon. I looked up to him then like I looked up to my heroes Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.”
Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, December 20, 2019, at Garza Memorial Funeral Home, 1025 E. Jackson St. Brownsville, TX 78520
In Lieu of flowers please make donations in memory of Herbie Hinojosa to Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall Of Fame, 1616 E. Griffin Parkway PMB 169, Mission, TX 78572
You may send your condolences and or sign the guestbook at garzamemorialfh.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to Garza Memorial Funeral Home, 1025 E. Jackson St. Brownsville, TX. (956) 542-5511.
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