Lookin at Lucky got a good trip today in the 135th running of the Preakness and showed everyone why he was the odds on favorite for both the Derby and the Preakness. Super Saver ran out of gas, finishing 8th after starting out strong and First Dude showed both early speed and tenacity despite his dubious name.
Lookin at Lucky’s win was not a huge surprise. The colt started in post position #1 in the Derby and got slammed twice at the beginning of the race, then got boxed in. The surprise here came in the jockey. After two races where Lucky had a rough ride, trainer Bob Baffert replaced Lucky’s regular jockey, Garett Gomez, with Martin Garcia, a 25-year old immigrant from Mexico. (Gomez rode D. Wayne Lukas’ Dunkirk in the Preakness but broke badly from the #12 post position, looking like he was veering off into the rail).
Garcia, who moved to the US seven years ago has risen quickly through the ranks of this very tough sport. But to win his first Triple Crown race? That’s pretty amazing.
According to an article in the Star Ledger, Garcia’s first job was as a dish washer and bus boy at a deli.
But he had talents beyond the kitchen. He had grown up on a ranch and had worked with horses all his life, he said, although not the “special horses like the ones here” at the racetrack. And one day the owner of the deli, Terri Terry, took him to a nearby farm to see her horse, a show jumper. Grabbing a handful of mane, as the story goes, Garcia jumped onto the horse’s back, and soon, without so much as a saddle, they were going over some difficult jumps. Impressed with her cook’s extra-culinary talents, Terry saw the possibilities and introduced him to a former rider.
From there, Garcia got a job at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds, working as a groom, a hot walker and an exercise rider before becoming a jockey. And at Bay Meadows, in August of 2005, with his third mount, he found the winner’s circle.