06/25/2009 11:00PM

Garcia moving up the ranks at the Fort

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Jockey David Garcia has returned to Fort Erie after spending most of this spring at Woodbine. Garcia, 36, has once again begun to make his mark at this border oval, where last year he finished third in the standings behind Chad Beckon and Rui Pimentel.

Two weeks ago, Garcia was not in the top 10 by wins at the Fort, but he won five races here last Monday and Tuesday and is quickly moving up the ladder. Going into Sunday's card he has a record of 12 for 54 and a 22 percent win rate. He missed last Sunday's card at the Fort to ride the 8-1 shot Celerity's Summit to a gate-to-wire victory in a $70,300 allowance route at Woodbine.

Garcia's agent, former jockey Jack Lauzon, has had his client working both tracks.

"We play it all by ear as to where Dave will be, and it has been working out well," said Lauzon. "Our intention is to continue the present pattern depending on the rides available, but he is a hard worker and really enjoys his time in the quieter atmosphere of Fort Erie."

Garcia, who now takes the winter season off, travels annually to Mexico to see his family and then returns to his home in Toronto for the beginning of the Woodbine meet.

"Last year I really enjoyed the season down at the Fort," said Garcia, "and the travel back and forth does not bother me at all."

Asked about his goals in life, Garcia said that he would like to hit the 1,000 winner mark, and right now he is more than three-quarters of the way to achieving that aim.

"I believe in a strong work ethic," said Garcia. "I was brought up to work hard and do the very best I can no matter what the challenge. At the moment my goal is simply to win as often as I can and to do the best I can for the trainers and owners at both tracks."

* Jockey Anthony Stephen and trainer Nick Gonzalez have teamed up to win 5 of 11 starts at the meet. Gonzalez is based at Fort Erie while his wife, Martha, handles the Woodbine stable. He has a 25 percent win rate at the Fort and a 20 percent rate at Woodbine.

* Next weekend marks only the second four-day week of the year as the gates will be open to live racing on Saturday, July 4, to mark the Independence Day celebrations in the United States. Racing will continue through the weekend to the Tuesday card.

* The horse population has increased, and last week the number of races on Monday and Tuesday were boosted from eight to nine.