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With his degree from the University of Virginia in hand, Connor Hankin had a vast array of career choices before him. He could have continued his studies toward a graduate degree, or he could have found employment in just about any endeavor that interested him.

Or, he could have taken a gap year or so and worked with horses, a vocation in which he has obvious talents. Riding largely for champion trainer Jack Fisher, he stood second in the jockey standings, and he is regarded by veteran observers as one of the most talented young riders to come along in some time.

All those paths and more were open to him, but he has decided to take the road less traveled. At least temporarily, his steeplechase career ends with the Saratoga Race Course meet. On Sept. 10, he reported to the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., to enter officer candidate school.

“At a certain point, I just feel like doing something to serve my country,” he told Mark Singelais. of the Albany (N.Y) Times Union in early August. “Doing something meaningful is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I would regret not doing it. I think it’s the right time at this point.”

Hankin, 22, will undergo a 10-week training regimen at Quantico before his commission as a second lieutenant. After that, he reports for combat training. He hopes to specialize in intelligence, he told Singelais.

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