Manny Franco was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in 1994. Now 25, he has been a professional jockey since 2013. He won the 2020 Belmont Stakes with Tiz the Law on June 20 in his Belmont racing debut.
Franco was introduced to horse racing by his father, who took him to the racetrack as a child. He attended the famous Escuela Vocacional Hipica Agustin Mercado Reveron jockey school in Puerto Rico in 2012. His first win was also in Puerto Rico, riding Skylight Citizen in Camarero in 2013.
He trained with another Belmont Stakes winner from Puerto Rico, Angel Cordero Jr., who won the race in 1976. Cordero is the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the United States’ Racing Hall of Fame and is now Franco’s agent as well as his mentor.
Franco was the New York Racing Association’s leading rider in 2018 and 2019. He was the second youngest rider in the race.
No fans at Belmont Stakes
This year, with the coronavirus pandemic still a threat in New York, there were no fans in the stands at the Belmont Stakes. The race was shorter this year, 1 1/8 miles instead of 1 1/2 miles, and it was postponed by two weeks. However, this year — the 152nd run of the Belmont Stakes — is the first time that the Belmont Stakes has been the first of the three races that make up horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby will run in September and the Preakness in October.
The pandemic means that the season for the Triple Crown is much longer than usual, but Franco is confident. Tiz the Law has won three important races already: the Champagne Stakes, the Holy Bull, and the Florida Derby.
After the Florida Derby, Franco could have continued racing in Florida, where racetracks were open without spectators, but he chose to spend time at home with his daughter until New York reopened racetracks. The Belmont Stakes was his first race since the Florida Derby.
Franco’s career earnings have now topped $84 million.