03/27/2002 1:00AM

Victim wanted to be a jockey


Sheri Garcia, the 37-year-old exercise rider who died on Tuesday morning while exercising a horse on the Pimlico training track, wanted to get a jockey's license in order to ride the horse she was working that morning, according to trainers and racing officials in Maryland.

"She wanted to be a jockey," said Georganne Hale, the racing secretary at Pimlico and Laurel. "She told people she wanted that horse to be the first ride she had, in the horse's first race."

Garcia was married to a former trainer, Michael Garcia, who kept a small string of horses at Pimlico last year, according to racing officials. Garcia currently works outside the racing industry.

Sheri Garcia lost consciousness within minutes of being thrown headfirst into a pole near the 4 1/2-furlong pole at Pimlico, according to witnesses. Mary Eppler, a trainer who saw the accident, said Garcia, who was wearing a helmet, lost control of Will I Ever, an unraced filly, near the five-furlong pole when the horse suddenly went for the gap separating the track from the backstretch.

"I've seen plenty of accidents in the morning, but nothing of that nature," Eppler said.

According to Maryland trainers, Will I Ever had gotten loose on the backstretch earlier this month.

"I think you could say that the horse had a headstrong reputation," a trainer said.

The horse was stalled in the barn of Charles Frock Jr. Trainers said Garcia frequently rode horses for Frock.