Garcia's father and grandfather were jockeys in Peru and he followed them into the family business after deciding that he wasn't going to be big enough to become a professional soccer player. Garcia attended the Peruvian jockey school and was the country's leading apprentice in 2003. He moved to the U.S. later in 2003 and was the top apprentice rider at the Meadowlands meet that fall. He switched to the New York circuit in 2007 and picked up his first Grade 1 victory that year aboard Lahudood in the Flower Bowl. A few weeks later, he won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf with Lahudood. In 2008, he was aboard for Da' Tara's upset victory in the Belmont Stakes and was the leading rider at Saratoga. Garcia rode eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, but gave up the mount in the Derby to ride Fountain of Youth winner Soldat for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.