Birthdate: 11-21-64; Tala Jalisco, Mexico
Family: Wife, Jane. Children; Tarah, Briteny, Christian and Tressa
Residence: Buena Park, California
Top Career Moments:
- Piloted Enjoy The Moment to stakes wins in the California Breeders Matron Stakes, Las Damas Handicap, and Miss Princess Handicap in 2004.
- Won the Jens S. List Memorial Sophomore Stakes with Classic Sassy Chic in 2002.
- Won the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity with Valiantly in 2002, Sassy Smith in 2001 and Zure Hope Again in 1987.
- Won the Sunland Park Fall Futurity with Babe Watcher in 2001.
- Won the Holiday Handicap with A Secret Account in 2001 and 2002. Joined forces with A Secret Account to win the 2001 California Breeders Sprint Stakes.
- Won the Jet Deck Handicap and Governor's Cup Derby with Separatist in 2000.
- Won the Viking Anne Handicap and the California Breeders Marathon with Distance Champion Sign Of Lanty in 2000. In 2001, rode the two-time Champion to wins in the MCI WorldCom Distance Challenge Championship, Marathon and Bull Rastus Handicaps.
- Regular rider aboard 1999 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Separatist, winning the California Sires Cup Futurity and running 2nd in the Los Alamitos Million Futurity.
- Won the Vessels Maturity with Blushin Bugs in 1999. Blushin Bugs also carried Garcia to his fourth win in the Pomona Championship Handicap.
- Won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million Futurity with Corona Cartel in 1996.
- Won the All American Futurity with A Classic Dash in 1993.
- Won the Los Alamitos Derby with Four Forty Blast in 1993.
- Won the Los Alamitos Championship with Brotherly in 1994 and Easy Conversation in '86.
Career Profile: After more than 20 years riding at Los Alamitos, Eddie Garcia entered the 2005 season just one stakes win away from breaking Kenny Hart's longtime record for stakes wins at the Orange County oval. Garcia and Hart are currently tied with 133 stakes wins.Hampered by injuries the past two years, Garcia now feels as good as ever. The jockey believes is only a matter of time before the all-time record for stakes wins is all his. "I feel great," he said.
What is the main quality that makes a horse a stakes winner? "That's a difficult question to answer. Some horses are smart, some are fast, some are great in the gate, and some have an unbelievable will to win. So many things go into winning a stakes race, that it is difficult to mention just one quality to sum it all up. I think the key is to get to know the horse and you can only do that by coming out in the mornings and working with each horse."
Eddie list his win aboard Corona Cartel is the 1996 Los Alamitos Million as his most memorable stakes win at Los Alamitos. Other memorable wins include stakes triumphs with Separatist, Four Forty Blast, and A Classic Dash, which he also piloted to victory in the 1993 All American Futurity. Garcia is also 137 wins away from breaking Danny Cardoza's all-time record of 2,528 wins at Los Alamitos. "That's the record that I think about all of the time," he said. "If I break that record then I can really say that I am the number one jockey ever at Los Alamitos." On January 5, 2003, Eddie moved past Kenny Hart and into second place on the all-time list of Quarter Horse wins at Los Alamitos. Eddie, an eight-time leading rider here, tied Hart's win total of 2,215 after guiding Thru Grace to victory in the third race. Eddie moved into sole possession of second place a few hours later when he guided All Go Win to a half-length victory in the evening's ninth race. Eddie is now about 200 wins away from equaling the track record owned by Cardoza. "A lot of the legendary Quarter Horse riders competed at Los Alamitos, so it's a nice feeling to be among the all-time leading riders here," Eddie said. Eddie, who won only 39 races last year, believes that he can still break the record. "If I stay healthy, I believe I can get the record," he said. ''I've been on the injury list a couple of times in the last five years but I'm now more dedicated to the sport than I've ever been."
Eddie was the dominant rider here from 1993 to 1999 - winning six titles in seven years. Eddie even set the then track record for the most Quarter Horse victories in a single season when he scored 188 wins in 1998, breaking his own mark of 174 set in 1997. Eddie was voted the 1996 AQHA Champion Jockey after piloting the earners of $1,661,589, more than any other jockey that year. One of the highlights of his career came on closing weekend in 1996, as he guided Corona Cartel to victory in the Los Alamitos Million to become the fifth rider in history to have ridden more than one winner of a $1 million race. His first $1 million victory came in 1993 when he guided champion A Classic Dash to a nose victory over Heza Fast Man in the All American Futurity.
A lot changed for Eddie after suffering a hairline fracture of his knee in the Ed Burke Memorial Futurity in July of 2000. Prior to the injury, Eddie sat on top of the world as the meet's leading Quarter Horse rider and the regular pilot of great horses like Sign Of Lanty, Separatist and Make It Anywhere. Eddie's injury set him back as he had to climb back to the top once he returned from being sidelined for more than four months. Upon his return he was no longer the leading rider and lost first call aboard any of the aforementioned superstar horses. Eddie was no longer the king of the Los Alamitos jock's room, but just one of the guys. Eddie simply picked up his lunchbox and went back to work, relishing the new challenge and the opportunity to prove himself in 2001. He did just that, finishing 2001 as the fourth-leading quarter horse rider at Los Alamitos and the regular pilot aboard winning machines A Secret Account. He also piloted Sign Of Lanty to victory in the 2001 Marathon Handicap - having already guided the three-time distance champion to Marathon glory in 1999. In 2002, Eddie found himself in the winner's circle after a stakes race seven times, including a surprise win aboard Valiantly in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. The 46-1 longshot won the richest running ever of the Breeders Futurity featuring a purse of $345,500. Eddie had previously won the Breeders Futurity with Sassy Smith last year and Zure Hope Again in 1987.
It's only a matter of time until Everardo Serrano Garcia, better known in Quarter Horse racing circles as Eddie Garcia, becomes the all-time leading rider in terms of wins at the Citadel of Speed, Los Alamitos Race Course. Garcia, already the Orange County track's all-time leader in stakes wins, is now only 23 victories away from equaling Danny Cardoza's all-time record at Los Alamitos of 2,528 Quarter Horse wins as of January 6, 2008. For Garcia, achieving the milestone would be the greatest accomplishment of his decorated career.
"To earn this record would be beyond special," said Garcia, while standing near the barn of legendary trainer Blane Schvaneveldt at Los Alamitos. "I've always dreamed about being the all-time leading rider at Los Alamitos. God willing, I'll be able to break it. It's a special record and to me it means everything. I've been in racing for a long time. I've worked hard and there have been days where I've gone hungry. I've suffered my share of injuries; I've suffered some broken bones. To reach this record, that's the ultimate reward. It's the type of record that makes everything worthwhile."
Barring an injury, Garcia shouldn't have to wait too long for win number 2,528. The jockey had a nice campaign in 2007, winning 51 races to tie for 10th place in the final standings of the marathon Los Alamitos meeting. He's off to a solid start in 2008, having already won with four of his first 15 mounts this year, and Garcia is more determined than ever now that he nears the end of his record chase.
"Father Time will let me know how much more I will ride," he said. "I'm 43 right now but I believe that I'm taking care of myself better now than ever before. There have been many jockeys that have had to call it quits because of bad knees. I'm fortunate in that my knees feel great. I use to enjoy having a few beers in my younger days but it's been about 12 years since I last had a drink. Maybe one day, I'll retire but right after this record, I still want to do things like win the Champion of Champions because that's one race that I've not won. I'd also love to win another Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and I still believe that I have the ability to accomplish it."
The second youngest of eight children, Garcia is the son of Guadalupe Serrano Costa and Catalina Garcia Ramos of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. While his father was not a jockey, each of Garcia's three brothers - Cesar, Oscar, and Damian - rode horses in Mexico and they remain very involved as Thoroughbred exercise riders at Santa Anita. Of Garcia's brothers, Damian was the best of the lot. At the age of six, Damian was already considered one of the best riders in his native land. Garcia looked up to his brothers and he would soon follow in their footsteps.
"Damian was two years older than me and I remember that people looked up to him because he was so good," he said. "He was known in Mexico like Kenny Hart was known here in the U.S. He was the best Quarter Horse jockey for about a three to four year span in Mexico. I wanted to be just like my brothers. There was a man near our home named David Vargas and he's the one that gave me my first riding lessons. He would sit me on a pony horse and I would ride around all over the place. I was five at the time. Then he started letting me cool horses off. This was at a little ranch in Pacana, Jalisco. Mr. Vargas would give me money to go to school, to buy sodas, and to go to the movies. It was great because we were very poor. We planted crops for a living. I would ride horses but also I worked the fields when I was six. I remember my dad would plant the corn and they would give me the lightest things to lift because I was so young. I would pick up the cornhusks, anything to help out. We were doing this as a family and I didn't mind.
"We lived in a two-bedroom adobe house," Garcia continued. "My brothers and I shared a bed. My sisters were in the other bedroom. My grandmother would watch over us when my parents were working in the field. I remember her house was a fun place to be. She was my mom's mother. I remember that she would cook all day, from five in the morning to late at night, she would be cooking and all of my family would come over to her house to eat. She did that every day.
"I was six when I rode my first race, it was aboard a Paint Horse. As I got a little older, I started traveling into different towns to ride. I'd be gone for three to four months at a time. Whatever money I made, I would bring it back to give to my mother."
In the meantime, Garcia's brothers moved to the California to start working at Santa Anita. The young Garcia cherished the photos that his brother's would mail him of their experiences at Santa Anita but there was one thing in particular that stood out about those photos.
"I loved the saddle," he said. "Up to that point I had only been using a riding girth in my races. When I saw those photos I started dreaming of riding on a saddle. That did it for me. I was 12 and I was already thinking of coming to the U.S."
By the time Garcia was a teenager; his mother was used to having jockeys for sons, not that that made her 14-year-old's decision to travel to California any easier. "I was always an independent thinker," Garcia explained. "As a jockey in Mexico I was already used to having to decide which horse to ride. I would get calls from different ranches with riding jobs and I had to make decisions. I was a kid but I was already taking the business seriously. This was my profession and I knew what I wanted to do."
In 1979, Garcia packed up his stuff and told his mom to take him to the train station - the time had come for him to go. After a 40-minute drive to the station, Garcia would travel for three days before reaching his destination.
"I couldn't work right away at Santa Anita because of my age so I went to the ranch of Mike Perez, who is the father of Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Business Manager Dino Perez. He had taught all of my brothers how to ride, so I was in good hands right from the start."
In his nine months at Perez's Hemacinto Stables in Hemet, California, Garcia learned to break horses and fine-tuned his ability to gallop before leaving for Utah. He was only 89 pounds at the time and his goal was return to California with the experience necessary to become a 105-pound bug boy in the Thoroughbred circuit. Garcia took off to Salt Lake City, where he started riding horses of all breeds. Ed Giles, the father of Wes Giles, started him on Thoroughbreds. Jay Giles would soon give him his first mounts on Quarter Horses.
"I owe the Giles a lot for everything they did for me, I even lived at Jay's house," Garcia said. "As I got the feel for Quarter Horses, I started liking these horses more and more. I rode the bush tracks in Utah because I was still a couple of months away from my 16th birthday. When I turned 16, I started working for Ron Carter. He gave me a chance to ride in futurity and derby trials and I really got going. The only thing that was tough on me was the weather. I was freezing all the time but I had no choice - I had to deal with the cold."
As chilly as it was, Garcia received a warm welcome everywhere he went in Utah. "I made so many great friends there. The horsemen treated me great. I met people like Darren Hall and Dale Anderson, two great riders that I'm still very proud to call my friends. We took care of each other, competed against each other and had a lot of good times together. I still didn't know anyone that was involved in Quarter Horse racing in California."
Ralph Seville would change all that. Seville came to Utah to compete in some trial races and eventually stayed in the area to ride. Garcia struck a friendship with Ralphie and as the winter months of a new year approached, Seville opened up a golden door for his young friend.
"Ralph told me that the Los Alamitos winter meet was coming and that he could get me a job galloping horses for a top riders there. I didn't believe him but I told him, 'well if it's true, I'll go.' A month later he called me and told me 'are you ready?' I said, 'if it's true, come back, pick me up and we'll drive back together.' He showed up a couple of days later and when I saw him I said, 'Wow! This is for real. This is no joke.' We jumped on my Ford pickup and we left Utah for California. When I got here, oh brother, it wasn't easy. Life was tough. The job fell through at the last second but I ended up working with Robert Bard and trainer Bruce Jackson. I was making decent money, about $200 a week, and Bruce had some nice horses like track record holder Scott Lewis. Another person that helped me a ton was John Creager. He took me under his wing and introduced me to everyone at the track. Why did he do it? He was good friends with Seville, plus he had heard that I had talent and he wanted to see me get a chance."
Garcia began to pick up mounts for trainers like Carlos Lopez and even Bob Baffert. He would eventually earn fifth call for Blane Schvaneveldt, not bad considering that the riders ahead of him were Bobby Adair, Kenny Hart, James Lackey, and Steve Treasure.
"I was a rookie so what else could I expect? Blane's barn was loaded with superstar horses so to even have a little chance there was a big deal. My first big win came with Easy Conversation in the $100,000 Los Alamitos Championship in 1986. Blane had five in that race and naturally I was aboard the 60-1 shot. Two races before the Vessels, I went down in a spill. They almost didn't let me ride because I was banged up. I remember walking back to the jock's room, dirty and sore. Blane came into the room; probably with his mind made up that he was going to change jockeys. I remember hearing him saying, 'who's open. 'I ran to him and said, 'what do you need?' He asked me if I was okay. I said, 'of course I'm okay. I'm ready.' We won the race by a nose. There was a bunch of huge horses in that race so it was a big, big win."
Easy Conversation led Garcia to opportunities aboard champions such as Dutch Masters III's Four Forty Blast and Abigail Kawananakoa's A Classic Dash. In 1993, Garcia piloted A Classic Dash to a thrilling nose victory over Heza Fast Man in the All American Futurity. The win made Connie Hall the first woman to ever saddle an All American winner.
"That's one of the greatest race that I've ever rode," Garcia said. "It was like winning a Super Bowl or a World Series. I remember feeling relaxed as I rode the race and when we crossed the finish line I felt that I had won the races. When we came back I started feeling super anxious because it was such a long photo finish. When I saw my number at the top of the tote board, I still have a hard time explaining how I felt at that moment. Your body just reacts with happiness. I can say, confidently, that I know what it most feel like to ride the winner in the Kentucky Derby or Breeders' Cup because the feeling is probably the same as winning the All American."
Garcia lists his victory aboard Corona Cartel in the 1996 Los Alamitos Million Futurity as one of his greatest victories. "That was his race," said Garcia of the sport's leading stallion in money earned in 2007. "He was such a good horse. He would have won the All American but we had to settle with the consolation. We were in the first trial and I think we were the 11th fastest qualifier. He was small but he could run 440 like you wouldn't believe. The 400-yard Million was perfect for him. I had the feeling that no one would beat him."
An eight-time leading rider at Los Alamitos, Garcia would also pilot stars such as Los Alamitos Championship winner Brotherly and champions Sign Of Lanty, Separatist and Sassy Smith among others. "Sign of Lanty is one of my favorites. He is the best 870-yard horse ever as far as I'm concerned. Separatist, he was another special horse. He was a phenomenal horse in the gate. I've talked to Alex Bautista about Separatist's ability to leave the gate and we both agreed that he broke as hard and as fast as any horse we've been on."
With so many great horses and so many trips to the winner's circle, Garcia is grateful for the owners and owners and trainers that have helped him along the way. "It's always a team effort and you feel fortunate when you win one race.That's why winning so many races makes you feel blessed. I'm so thankful for people like Blane Schvaneveldt because he's been more than a friend and more than a trainer to me. He's been like a father. He's never turned his back on me and he's always given me great advice. Every time I wear his silks, it's an honor for me. His silks represent a legend and I feel proud whenever I'm sitting on one of his horses. These young riders that are that are behind me, guys like Rodrigo Aceves, Ramon Sanchez and Alex Bautista, they want this record and one of them we'll eventually own it. My advice to them is to keep on going. They have to want it bad. They'll have to work hard and they'll have to be disciplined. If I'm lucky enough to eventually hold this record, I'll be in support of the next person that breaks it. To ride for such a long time comes at a price, so I'll admire the next person that breaks it.
"I came to this country with a mindset that I would be somebody in the Quarter Horse game," he added. "I was given this chance and I feel that I was able to take advantage of it. I have a great family and I have relationship with my four children. My wife, Jane, has always been supportive of my career, and my boy, Christian, loves the sport a great deal. There are a lot of jockeys from Mexico that have followed me to Los Alamitos. I didn't help them directly to get here but they heard about my success and that inspired them to do the same. I'm proud when they tell me those stories and I'm glad that they've come here and enjoyed success. As for me, maybe one day I'll retire and train Quarter Horses. I don't know, think that would be nice."