10/17/2006 11:00PM

Wakanda has Garcia for turf try


ARCADIA, Calif. - After a seven-week break, apprentice jockey Martin Garcia has quickly regained a place among the top riders in Southern California.

Garcia, who finished among the leading riders at the Hollywood Park and Del Mar meetings during the summer, returned from a suspension and a wrist injury on Thursday. He had not ridden since the first week of September at Del Mar.

On Friday's Oak Tree card at Santa Anita, Garcia has mounts in five of the eight races, including Wakanda in a $42,000 allowance race on the hillside turf course.

Garcia earned 25 days of suspension for careless riding during the Del Mar meeting. After he lodged an appeal, the term of the suspension was reduced to 22 days. The suspension ended on Wednesday, the 17th day of the Oak Tree meeting. (Garcia sat out the final five days of the Del Mar meeting.) During that time, he also recovered from a wrist injury suffered at the end of Del Mar.

With all that behind him, Garcia said on Wednesday that he is ready to resume riding.

He said his wrist is "good."

It feels normal," he said. "It's not sore."

The suspensions were a learning experience, he said. "That's part of the job," he said. "When you try hard that can happen. . . . I hope now I can do a better job."

Wakanda will be making her turf debut in Friday's seventh race, which is run over about 6o1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. A 3-year-old filly, she beat maidens over 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in July in her third start. She was eighth in an allowance race for sprinters at Del Mar on Aug. 5.

In Friday's allowance race, Wakanda faces a group led by Moogie, the runner-up in an allowance race on the hillside turf course on Oct. 1. Moogie is trained by Doug O'Neill. A 3-year-old filly, Moogie was claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 27. She has 1ovictory in 6 starts, a sprint on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park last February.

All Aglow, a winner on the hillside turf in February, is another leading contender. She was second in an optional claimer at Fairplex Park on Sept. 23.