DIONICIA MARTINEZ is the matriarch of the Martinez-Muñoz family, a racetrack paseadora (stable assistant) and the dedicated mother of five sons. Having grown up in dire poverty in Pueblo, Mexico, Dionicia came to the US as a young mother determined to offer her children a better life. While three of her five sons live with her in California, Dionicia desperately misses her two sons who remain in Mexico. Yet with the racetrack closing and her future uncertain, Dionicia must rethink her family’s chances of finding a stable life in the world of horse racing.
JOSE LUIS MARTINEZ CAMPOS, a talented and fiercely determined apprentice jockey, is Dionicia’s eldest son from her first marriage. José Luis crossed the border alone at age 12 because even at a his young age he had a vision: he wanted to come north and race horses. After starting as a stable groom, José Luis makes a stellar debut in the California racing scene and is named Santa Anita’s apprentice jockey of the year. He appears poised to make his dream come true when he runs into immigration trouble. Faced with the biggest challenge of his life, José Luis will be forced to revise his dream and start anew.
MARIO MUNOZ, Dionicia’s husband, came to the US as a teenager after enduring an impoverished childhood in Michoacán, Mexico , where he was never sent to school. He has worked ever since at racetracks all around North America, but by the film’s beginning he has settled in California with Dionicia and two of their four sons. Over the course of the film, Mario grows increasingly distressed about the couple’s separation from their two sons who remain in Mexico. Determined to reunite his family, Mario hatches a plan.
MARIO JR AND HOMAR MUNOZ are Dionicia and Mario’s two US citizen sons. After spending years living in Mexico with their grandparents the two boys have come north to live with their parents at the racetrack. Seven year-old Homar is delighted to live with his mother and father and to be able to roam freely through the stables. For 15 year old Mario Jr, however, life in the US is far harder than he imagined. Alienated from school, Mario Jr turns to soccer for consolation and dreams of returning to Mexico.
ANDRES AND CARLOS MUNOZ are Dionicia and Mario’s two sons living in Mexico. Because they were both born in Mexico they are not US citizens and were left behind when Mario and Homar came north. Though they are far from their parents, Andres and Carlos are never far from their thoughts. As events spin out of control in Dionicia and Mario’s life, Andres and Carlos make a surprising appearance in the documentary.