By Kristin Bechthold
If you’ve ever heard a short clip of music and improvised dialogue referencing the 1972 movie “The Godfather” playing after a race, you will know that jockey Geovanni Franco has won.
To settle any confusion, the story goes like this: though originally from Mexico, Franco was often mistaken for being Italian while racing in Canada. It happened so often that he went along with it and pretended to be Italian. When he first came to Canterbury, track announcer Paul Allen began the “Godfather” bit when Franco entered the winner’s circle, thus, his persona was born. “I consider myself Italian now,” Franco said with a laugh.
Though he had little connection to the racing industry, Franco’s uncle, who worked as a farrier, told him he should give riding a try.
“I was taking a horse’s shoe off one day and my uncle told me, ‘You shouldn’t be down there, you should be on top of the horses,’” Franco said.
He decided to take his uncle’s advice and begin a career as a jockey in Mexico. Now in his early twenties, he has over six years of experience under his belt.
After riding in Mexico, he traveled to Canada to begin his apprenticeship that would last for two years. He then made his way to the United States in 2011 and came to Canterbury for his first full season in 2012. He now primarily rides at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and Canterbury Park.
Outside of racing, Franco’s biggest hobby is golf. Though he’s still a beginner, he does it as much as he can, wherever he can. In fact, he described his “perfect day” as “a day of racing and then golfing.” Though one of his dreams was to be a basketball player, he claimed he was too short to play. In that accord, his current job and hobby fit him perfectly.
Though it is clear that Franco has a passion for riding, he also has a clear understanding of what really matters outside of his career. He claimed that if he had one week left to live, he would spend it relaxing on a beach with his family. If he could choose his last words, they would be, “peace, love, and honor.”