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Apprentice jockey Valentin scores first win at Aqueduct

03/31/2014 05:58 PM ET
Valentin_Inside
Francisco Valentin
PHOTO/Photo/Adam Coglianese

Keen On Green led every step of the eighth and final race at Aqueduct Racetrack on Monday afternoon to carry 21-year-old apprentice jockey Francisco Valentin to his first-ever victory.

Valentin, a native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, came to the United States 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."

Keen On Green, a 3-year-old daughter of Bustin Stones, completed the mile in 1:44.44.

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