By Tom Pedulla
Original Article posted by America’s Best Racing
Arnaldo Monge often refers to destiny, and perhaps that best explains how he joined Rey Hernandez as unlikely Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve owners with improbable one-eyed starter Finnick the Fierce.
Monge left Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico for the United States at age 20 to pursue his dream of becoming a veterinarian. It took three attempts for him to be accepted into the University of Florida’s veterinary school. He went on to graduate at the top of his class and has been with Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for the last 25 years.
Hernandez left Guatemala for the U.S. at 17 to pursue a career in the horse racing industry. He worked as an exercise rider at WinStar Farm, spent time as a jockey, and now has built a promising training operation. The star of his stable is a Derby longshot both men so fervently believe in that Monge took a loan to pay the $50,000 entry fee.
Both men express appreciation for how far they have come as co-owners of Finnick the Fierce, a $3,000 purchase who was acquired so inexpensively because he was born with a cataract on his right eye that ultimately led to that eye being surgically removed.
“What Rey and I accomplished here as two immigrants,” Monge said, “I don’t think in any other country we could have done that.”
Not that anything came easily.