Jockey Wilmer Garcia triples at Tampa Bay Downs
January 14, 2017 12:41pm
Wimler Garcia 2012
Photo: NYRA

When he fractured his neck in a car accident four years ago, Wilmer Garcia never considered the possibility of not returning to the saddle.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was little,” said the 25-year-old newcomer to the Tampa Bay Downs jockey colony. “I know if I work hard all the time and keep learning, I can compete in the sport that I love.”

Garcia, who gained recognition earlier in the meeting for his victory on (now)-4-year-old filly Triple Chelsea in the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes, raised his profile another notch today by winning three consecutive races before a sun-splashed crowd of 3,774.

His third consecutive victory came in the sixth race on the turf, when he urged 11-1 shot Awalkinthemoonlite to a ¾-length victory from 9-10 favorite Be Nice Or Leave. The winning 8-year-old mare is owned by Anthony Granitz and Jeremiah Stables and trained by Granitz, also the conditioner of Triple Chelsea.

Garcia, who grew up in Manati, Puerto Rico, first gained widespread notice as an apprentice at Saratoga in the summer of 2012, when he rode 11 winners that paid an average of $36.60 to win. He missed almost all of 2013 getting healthy, and it wasn’t until last year he began to approach the promise he displayed as an apprentice on the New York scene, winning 69 races with mount earnings in excess of $1.7-million.

Working here with agent Richard Ancona, he has moved into a tie for eighth in the Oldsmar standings with nine victories while winning at a 20-percent rate.

“I’m really happy to be at Tampa Bay Downs and get this opportunity,” said Garcia, who has been riding for such top trainers as Granitz and Dale Bennett. “We’re trying to break the ice and get noticed, and so far it is working out well.”

At Monmouth Park in New Jersey last spring and summer, Garcia rode 25 winners to tie for eighth in the standings.

Garcia’s big day started in the fourth race on the grass on 4-year-old filly Judy’s Chance, bred and owned by Judy Sessa and trained by Derek Ryan. He added the fifth on 3-year-old colt Dizzy Gillespie for breeder-owner Bailey Bolen and trainer Joseph Arboritanza.

Garcia almost made it a perfect 4-for-4 on the day in the ninth race on the turf with a bold move up the rail on 10-1 shot Just My Game, but came up a length-and-a-quarter short to 5-year-old mare Zouzou and jockey Daniel Centeno. Both horses are trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

Around the oval. Jockey Edwin Gonzalez rode two winners today. He captured the third race on Memories of Winter, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Thoroughbred Investments Fund and trained by  Anthony Margotta, Jr. Memories of Winter was claimed from the race by trainer Kathleen DeMasi for her Pewter Stable.

Gonzalez won the 10th race on 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Uncle Woodrow for owner Jagger, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The sixth race is an allowance/$100,000 optional claiming, six-furlong affair, with an eight-horse field headed by 2016 Pasco Stakes winner Morning Fire.
Source: Tampa Bay Downs


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