Francisco Valentin, a 21-year-old apprentice, posted his first career victory when Keen On Green led every step of the eighth and final race on the March 31 card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Valentin, a native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, came to the U.S. nine months ago with the dream of becoming a jockey. It was trainer Gary Contessa, for whom Valentin gallops horses in the mornings, who named the young rider aboard Keen On Green, who went off as the 6-5 favorite in the one-mile maiden race and won by five lengths.
“I’m so happy,” said Valentin, who has had 15 mounts since January, including three second-place finishes. “This is a very emotional moment for me. It’s like a dream coming true.”