When superjockey Martin Garcia won the Preakness Stakes in May—and with it the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown—Terri Terry deserved a chunk of the credit.
The deli owner in Pleasanton, Calif., had given Garcia a job in her kitchen years ago, despite reservations that he might not even reach high enough to put food through the window. He persisted. She hired him.
Next, he found out she had horses and asked to ride them. She demurred, saying it was too dangerous. “He said he was the best horse rider in Mexico,” she recalled. “I said, ‘OK, no.’ He was very persistent.”
Then everything changed.
One morning, a car struck and injured Garcia. Because Terry is the kind of boss who cares, she rushed to his home and was stunned by all the pictures of horses.
“That was my breaking point,” she said. After he recovered, she took him to her ranch, where he leapt bareback on one of her mares. He was a natural.
Terry then introduced Garcia to a former jockey and trainer who hired him to exercise horses at the Pleasanton track. Again, he was relentless in asking to ride. That led Garcia to race, literally, to the top of his profession at age 25.
“What he has been through and where he has been is a hard life,” Terry says. “It’s a hard ride and the only way he made it was his perseverance.”
Garcia “loves the horses and will do anything for them,” she adds. “They give him his life.”
But she gave him his chance.
— Adapted from “Deli Owner Delights in Martin Garcia’s Preakness Victory,” Barry Werner, Fanhouse, www.fanhouse.com.