The Preakness and Martin Garcia

May, 17, 2010
BALTIMORE -- I told my wife I received more press for [trainer] Bob [Baffert] taking me off Lookin At Lucky than I would have had if I'd ridden him in the Preakness and won.

People asked me how it felt to see him hit the wire in front under Martin Garcia, and sure, to be honest with you, I was disappointed I wasn't on him. He's a special horse to me because I felt like I helped develop him since I'd been on him every time, so I guess you would say there was a bond that we had.

It was just one of those things; it's horse racing. But there's one thing I think people should know, and it's a rule I always stick to as a professional. When I'm riding a race, it doesn't matter if I've ridden a horse before or not, or how much I liked the horse or didn't like him. Unless I'm concerned about him as a threat to my victory, or I know some of his tendencies that might work out to my advantage when I'm trying to win the race, I'm not worried about him. I'm on one horse, and I can only worry about my horse and giving him the maximum potential to win. When I go out there, no matter who I'm riding, I'm trying to win; I'm not worried about trying to pinpoint another horse. If you're out there with the motivation of trying to beat another horse for the sake of revenge, except when it comes down to tactics and competition and giving your current mount the ultimate chance to win, you're not doing your job and you're wasting your time.

People also wonder if I'd have a problem with Martin, and that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I just got off the phone with him.

A lot of times when these kids come here from different countries and start riding races and doing well, a lot of people just suddenly appear to take advantage of them. Martin hasn't been here that long; he was up north for a while and then when he came down to Southern California, I told him, "Now you have to understand, with the money that you made, what goes where." Because in the last six months he's ended up with some good-sized checks and I don't want to see a kid like that just go broke. If the kids that come from Mexico and different places where they don't have a lot of money ever wanted to retire and go home, they'd be set. So I just told him to put his money away and invest it himself, invest in the bank, keep an eye on his money. He's a good kid, and I've kind of taken him under my wing a little bit.

I've also given him some help with simple things, too. This year he came to the Kentucky Derby, he went to Arkansas, and I set him up with a valet everywhere he went. He was very happy and enthusiastic about what happened yesterday and at the same time he was very apologetic toward me and I told him "That's just part of the game, stuff happens, and I'm fortunate enough to be on the receiving end more than the other end." So I understand, and I've been in the position -- I've been around a long time -- and even though I would have loved to get the victory, I'm happy for him.

I tried to think back to when I was a kid, riding races like that, but most of my big breaks happened when I came back. I had opportunities when I was young, but was never really able to break through for a couple of really good, solid moments like a couple of these younger kids have in the past few years. I would pop out of the woodwork and win a couple of races, and when I was younger I won a couple of Arkansas Derbies, but I was never able to win any of these Triple Crown races. So you know they've accomplished something that's very precious; even I can't understand how precious it is.

With Dublin, he actually ran a good race once I got him focused on what was going on. He'd been running in a D-bit and they put a ring bit on him for me. He was fine throughout the entire course of the race; the only thing he did wrong was the break. I'm not exactly sure what happened, to be honest with you. He was ready to go when they kicked it but he made a right and the field made a left and I was like, "Oh, no, here we go."

I wish I could have traded post positions with both horses I've been on so far in this Triple Crown season. With this horse, I wish I could have had the 1 hole. In the Derby with Lookin At Lucky, after seeing the way things played out, I'd have been happy coming from the complete outside.

I think you'll see more from Dublin in the future, though. He's a big boy, but his focus level just kind of leaves him now and then. When I asked him, he traveled well and started to go home; it was just later in the race that I could see he wasn't going to catch the top four finishers, so I eased up on him for the last part. The last sixteenths of a mile, I was down riding and was just past the horse that was fifth -- I think it was Caracortado -- when I looked up I had another five lengths to make up on the top four finishers. I knew I couldn't get closer to them, I looked underneath my arm and saw I was safe for fifth. That's when I actually started watching the top four finishers, and when they hit the wire I could tell Lookin At Lucky had won.

Lest he get lost in the shuffle, I'd like to point out an excellent performance by the horse I rode in the William Donald Schaefer Handicap on the undercard Saturday. Blame hadn't run in six months, so we wanted to get just enough out of the race without doing too much, setting him up for his next start, which will come in the Stephen Foster. Now that he has a good race in him, he's got a long, exciting year ahead of him, and I'm really looking forward to his starts in the handicap division. He's a big, grand-looking horse, a beautiful animal. I'll go wherever he goes.

I'm riding in New York for the next few days and getting settled before the beginning of the Monmouth meet May 22. I'll be sure to give you a preview of that and set the scene a little for what I expect to be an interesting summer at the shore. And -- fingers crossed -- I'll have an update for you on the Belmont and my last chance of the season to get a Triple Crown Classic score.



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?