My Best Friend ...IN ANOTHER SPORT

May 29, 2005

MIKE SMITH
GIACOMO JOCKEY

PAUL LO DUCA
MARLINS CATCHER

SMITH AND Lo Duca met in 2003 after Smith chatted with Lo Duca's wife, Sonia, at an L.A. gym (Lo Duca was then a Dodger), and she said that her husband owned thoroughbreds. The two men soon began a friendship, and Smith has ridden several of Lo Duca's racehorses. "He knows more about horses than I do," says Smith, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo and was third in last Saturday's Preakness. "The breeding, the history. Everything." Lo Duca, who grew up a race fan in Phoenix, has four horses including Full Moon Madness, a 10-year-old with more than $1 million in earnings. Lo Duca bet on Giacomo in the Derby and watched the race in the clubhouse during a game. "It's like [me] winning the World Series," Lo Duca said of Smith's win. As for the Preakness, Lo Duca, who had called to wish Smith luck, said, "Giacomo ran good. Mike laid him back like in the Derby. Afleet Alex just had a little more left."

CHRIS CHANDLER
RAMS QUARTERBACK

SERGIO GARCIA
GOLFER

CHANDLER WAS 33 and had just led the Falcons to the Super Bowl when he and García, then 19, and García's father, Victor, were grouped for a charity match at the Golf Club of Georgia in 1999. Says Chandler, "I was thinking, What am I getting into? Do they speak English?" He soon found out. "From the 1st tee, he gave me a hard time, and we were laughing." Chandler played with García all week as the golfer prepared for the Masters. The families are now close, and the Garcías have stayed with Chandler, his wife, Diane, and their girls, Ryann, 10, Skye, 8, and Brynn, 6. "My daughters love him," says Chandler. "When they see him on TV, they go nuts."

KRIS JENKINS
PANTHERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE

CHRIS WILCOX
CLIPPERS FORWARD

WILCOX, NOW 23, ran into Jenkins five years ago at one of the many parties Jenkins hosted at his South Campus apartment at the University of Maryland. "Chris and I would hang out and go to clubs and just chill," says Jenkins, 25. They keep in regular contact, and Jenkins, who is a Charlotte Bobcats season-ticket holder, looks forward to hanging out with Wilcox and also going clubbing with his pal whenever the Clippers come to town. "We go for the same reason everybody goes to clubs," Jenkins says of the two bachelors. "We flirt with the girls, mingle, have fun and then go home. We stay out of trouble."

COLOR PHOTOBILL FRAKES (SMITH)  MIKE SMITH
GIACOMO JOCKEY
COLOR PHOTOKEVIN TANAKA/SPORTPICS (LO DUCA)  PAUL LO DUCA
MARLINS CATCHER
COLOR PHOTODAVID E.KLUTHO (CHANDLER)  CHRIS CHANDLER
RAMS QUARTERBACK
COLOR PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (GARCIA)  SERGIO GARCIA
GOLFER
COLOR PHOTOCHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS (JENKINS)  KRIS JENKINS
PANTHERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE
COLOR PHOTOJOHN CORDES/ICON SMI (WILCOX)  CHRIS WILCOX
CLIPPERS FORWARD

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)