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Belmont Next Stage For Rising Jockey Star

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On June 5, the town of Elmont, N.Y., will play host to the Belmont Stakes, and many eyes will be fixed on 25-year-old jockey Martin Garcia. He rode the horse Lookin' at Lucky to victory at this year's Preakness Stakes. Host Liane Hansen profiles horseracing's new celebrity.

(Soundbite of a bugle call)

LIANE HANSEN, host:

On June 5th, the town of Elmont, New York, will play host to the Belmont Stakes, and many eyes will be fixed on 25-year-old jockey Martin Garcia. He rode the horse Lookin' at Lucky to victory at this year's Preakness Stakes.

Unidentified Man: With a half mile to go, Lookin' at Lucky, he's out of harm's way on the outside. And there goes Lookin' at Lucky. He's starting to move...

HANSEN: When Garcia left Mexico for the United States seven years ago, a career as a professional jockey hadn't crossed his mind.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man: Lookin' at Lucky did it. Lookin' at Lucky has won the Preakness.

HANSEN: We spoke with Garcia this past week and he described how it felt to win the Preakness.

Mr. MARTIN GARCIA (Jockey): I don't have words to describe that feel. It's just like, wow. It's something that just, like I say, it's just a feel that you never have before. It's just something so, like, so excited, that was the way I feel when I won the Preakness.

HANSEN: Getting the chance to ride for renowned trainer Bob Baffert didn't come easily. Garcia says he asked time and time again for Baffert to take a chance on him. Baffert finally did and it paid off.

Martin Garcia will ride another Baffert horse in the Belmont, a mile and a half race. But the young jockey says...

Mr. GARCIA: I hope that my horse can relax to go the distance because, I guess, horses that going that far, they need to relax. They need to be calm. I think my horse can do it.

HANSEN: Garcia says he started out riding farm horses as a child in Veracruz, Mexico. But he says his family back home is unaware of his achievements.

Mr. GARCIA: I haven't told my family what I do. They don't know that I'm a professional jockey. Why? Because I guess, you know what - I guess they don't really know what it is.

HANSEN: Martin Garcia will put his talents to the test again this coming Saturday at the Belmont Stakes in New York.

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