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Jose M. Hernandez from the Larry Pilotti barn has been selected as August 2018 Groom of the Month.
He’s spent his entire life around horses. In his native Cuba Jose learned how to care for farm horses, as well as cows and oxen, this transitioned well for Jose into the Thoroughbreds.
He started his career at Hialeah as a hotwalker. Jose bought a horse and Larry was the trainer. “It wasn’t a very good horse, but it got me started.” A steadfast, Jose has worked a groom for the Pilotti barn for 19 years.

(left to right) FHBPA Board Member Kathy Davey, Jose M. Hernandez groom for trainer Larry Pilotti, jockey Leonel Reyes, owner Jennifer Hayford-Quinonez

Jose is also a handyman and said if he had never been a groom, he probably would have worked as handyman for a contractor.
He said there was one special moment at Calder he’ll never forget. Jose had bought a horse called Curvey Star for $5,000 at the August OBS sale. She made her first career start on August 26, 2007 in a Maiden $32,000 claimer at 5 ½ furlongs.
“When the gate opened she stumbled hard and almost fell over, a horrible break from the gate, such bad luck. For a first-time starter this usually means you lost. So, I didn’t even want to watch the race, and I dropped my head,” said Jose.
“Suddenly one of my buddies was screaming, ‘Hey your horse is going to win!’ I thought he was just rooting and I told him to get lost. But, as it turns out she gathered herself and won by three lengths! I can’t explain it, but when your horse wins, it’s such an incredible feeling. I was never so happy!”
Curvey Star paid $24.80 on the win and spent the rest of her career running out west for new owners.
We want to congratulate Jose and thank Larry Pilotti for his participation in this important program to help showcase our backside workers.
Watch Curvey Star put in an eye-popping run