Lissette Hernandez's training career is off to a record setting start. Saddling a Quarter Horse for the first time ever as full-fledged trainer, the 20-year-old college student watched from the Los Alamitos grandstand as her charge, El Corona Ariero, equaled the Los Alamitos 550-yard track record. El Corona Ariero, a five-year-old gelding by Corona Czech, covered the distance in :26.54 in the evening's seventh race, tying the mark set by Aladim Bryan Sa on January 14, 2006.
Having only earned her license a few days earlier, Hernandez will now be listed as the trainer on all six horses owned by her parents, Edmundo and Elizabeth Gutierrez. And when she's not working with the racehorses, Lissette spends a major bulk of her time concentrating on her studies in business administration and animal science at Cal Poly Pomona. It's a schedule that will get very hectic for the young trainer in the fall, but one that she believes she'll be able to handle.
In addition to El Corona Ariero, who was previously trained by Antonio Soto, Hernandez will also train the sprinters Camp Crook, Here Right Now, Paternalist, Vintner, and Shadows Rattler. The barn favorite, however, will continue to be the talented El Corona Ariero. The brown gelding had already proven his affinity with this distance having won the Barbra B Handicap at 550 yards on February 16.
"He's always been our favorite because he's the first horse that my parents ever owned," said Lissette. "I used to come around to watch our horses in the mornings, so much so that people started telling me, 'since you're here, maybe you should be a trainer.' So I started studying to be a trainer.
"There's a lot more pressure when you start training horses. You want to win races and you want to do well. I'm looking forward to working hard to make that happen," she added. "When you're here every day seeing your horses, you certainly become more attached to them. It's because you start thinking that your horses are the best horses here."
There's one thing that few will argue, and that's that right now El Corona Ariero is the best 550-yard horse on the grounds.
"He's always done well in longer Quarter Horse races," Elizabeth Gutierrez explained. "When you look at his bloodlines you can understand why he does do so well. He has a Thoroughbred mother and his sire was a pretty good racehorse. With El Corona Ariero he always had trouble in the gates. That's why he sometimes struggles in shorter distances.
"Lissette has always been around horses," her mom continued. "My husband is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and we would go back to visit the ranch there every year. I think that's where she started liking the horses. She worked hard to get her license. She's studied diligently for six months and it paid off. It takes a lot of dedication and a love for horses to be a trainer. Days can be long, so it's important that she enjoy this profession."
And it's not just her parents that are giving the young trainer their full support. Hernandez can also count on her sisters to help out.
"My 17-year-old sister Stephanie is my assistant in training," Hernandez said with a smile. "She wants to gallop horses but I won't let her do that right now. My other sister, Melissa, is 19. She's out here helping me as well."
There's no hiding that Lissette is certainly crazy about horses.
"Maybe someday I'll be a vet."
And maybe someday El Corona Ariero will have the 550-yard record all to himself.