Tampa Bay Downs is proud to introduce its blog for the 2012-13 season, “Racing in the Sunshine.” By giving visitors an up-close and personal look at the majestic world of Thoroughbred racing, the sport’s participants – racing officials, horsemen, backstretch workers, trainers, jockeys and track employees – hope to entertain and inform fans everywhere.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Luis Garcia, Jockey
A TampaBayDowns insider’s opinions, observations and
reflections about their
It doesn’t take Luis Garcia long to make a positive
impression. Besides being one of the most cheerful, enthusiastic athletes you could
hope to meet, the 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico
has stamped himself as one of the track’s top riders since arriving at Tampa
Bay Downs for the 2010-11 season at the urging of trainer Leigh Delacour.
Garcia won 34 races that season, highlighted by his sterling ride aboard 43-1
shot Watch Me Go in the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for owner Gilbert
Campbell and trainer Kathleen O’Connell. Since beginning his career 10 years
ago, Garcia has ridden almost 1,300 winners, with total purse earnings above
$27-million. Garcia and his younger brother, Geovany, are well-known on the
mid-Atlantic circuit; their uncle Julio is also a successful jockey. In 2007,
Luis rode Forty Crowns to victory in the Maryland Million Turf at Laurel. Garcia is married
to a jockey, Elizabel Navarro, and has a 2-year-old son, Justin, and a
5-year-old stepdaughter, Brithany. Riding for such outfits as the Delacour
stable, H. Graham Motion and Jonathan Sheppard, Garcia’s optimistic outlook is
HOMETOWN: Hanover, Maryland.
BEST HORSE I EVER
RODE: I got to ride Drosselmeyer here in the 2011 Challenger Stakes, the
year after he won the Belmont
for William Mott. It was his first race in nine months, he wanted more distance
and we finished fourth. But I could tell what kind of horse he was
(Drosselmeyer won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic). I’ve also been on a bunch of
good fillies for Leigh Delacour, like (eventual Grade I winner) Her Smile, who
I won a stakes with as a 2-year-old; (stakes winner) Supreme and (stakes-placed)
HOW I GOT STARTED IN
RACING: I used to watch the races all the time with my grandparents, but I
didn’t realize I wanted to do this until I was 15. Watching my uncle ride a lot
got me motivated, and I went to the El Comandante jockeys’ school when I turned
MY BIGGEST INFLUENCE:
Frankie Dettori. I’ve never met him, but I admire his style, the way he handles
horses and how he rides the turf. Just the way he sits back on a horse,
waiting, waiting, waiting. … and riding pretty aggressive at the end.
ONE CHANGE I WOULD
MAKE TO RACING: Better insurance for all the riders. The Jockeys’ Guild and
workmen’s comp programs are good, but they won’t cover everything if you are
MY FAVORITE SPORTS
TEAM/ATHLETE: I always liked the way (former NBA point guard) Jason
Williams played. My favorite teams are the Lakers and the Ravens.
NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET
LIST: I want to take my family to France,
all the European countries. And I want to take them to Disneyworld
when they are old enough to enjoy it.
FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT
TAMPA BAY DOWNS:
The weather is great, the people are friendly and the grandstand is always
full. You don’t get that up north in the winter.
WHAT ELSE I’D BE
DOING IF. ... I might be an aviation mechanic or in the military police. I
graduated from that program back home.
SHOW/MOVIE: Two and a Half Men
and Mama. I like scary movies.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE
STARTING IN RACING: Take your time and try to learn something different
every day. And if you fall down, don’t let anyone keep you down – get up and