Last updated: 6/8/15 4:03 PM
|Garrett Gomez hoisting his fourth Bill Shoemaker Award as the top Breeders’ Cup jockey
(Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)
Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, who will long be
remembered for guiding Blame to victory over hitherto undefeated Zenyatta in the
2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), formally announced his retirement Monday on
Facebook. The 43-year-old had not ridden since October 5, 2013, but hope had
remained that there could still have been a comeback.
“I would like to thank everyone in the sport of horse racing for all the
support I ever received in my career,” Gomez posted. “I enjoyed every horse I
ever rode and I thank all of them for making my career.
“I’d like to apologize to all my fans for leaving the sport the way I did.
Sometimes you have to do things in life for yourself.
“I’d like everyone to know I’m officially retired from the sport of horse
racing .I thank everyone for all I achieved that had a part in my career. I had
a lot of awesome moments in this game. BEST GAME IN THE WORLD. THANK YOU HORSE
According to Equibase, Gomez compiled 3,769 wins, and his mounts amassed
$205,224,899 in purses, over the course of a career that began in 1988.
The winner of 13 Breeders’ Cup events, Gomez earned the Bill Shoemaker Award
a record four times as the top jockey at the 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010 Breeders’
Gomez took the Juvenile (G1) twice with Stevie Wonderboy (2005) and
Midshipman (2008); the Juvenile Fillies (G1) twice with Indian Blessing (2007)
and Beholder (2012); rode Midnight Lute to both of his Sprint (G1) titles
(2007-08); and scored one apiece in the Mile (G1) (Artie Schiller, 2005); Filly
& Mare Sprint (Ventura, 2008); Dirt Mile (Albertus Maximus, 2008); Ladies’
Classic (G1) (Life Is Sweet, 2009); Juvenile Turf (G2) (Pluck, 2010); Juvenile
Fillies Turf (G2) (More Than Real, 2010); and the aforementioned Classic that
became an instant classic.
|Gomez coaxing Blame across the wire, upsetting the mighty Zenyatta in the 2010 BC Classic
(Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)
Making his achievements in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup even more remarkable, Gomez
had suffered a right shoulder injury in a spill on the eve of the two-day
Championships — and still rode three BC winners, topped by his titanic effort
Gomez led the nation’s riders by earnings from 2006-2009, inclusive. After
eclipsing Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey’s record for most stakes wins in a season
with 76, he was voted the Eclipse Award for 2007. He repeated with another
Eclipse in 2008.
The pinnacle of Gomez’s success came after a battle with substance
abuse earlier in his career (2003-04). In part because of his valiant fight, and
the tenacity that lifted him to the top of his profession, his fellow jockeys
honored him with the George Woolf Award in 2011.
Gomez reached out to help others dealing with alcohol and drug problems. In
addition to generously supporting the Winners Foundation, a non-profit that
serves those in the racing industry, Gomez recounted (with co-author Rudolph
Alvarado) his personal experience in a book, The Garrett Gomez Story: A
Jockey’s Journey through Addiction & Salvation.
In the summer of 2013, Gomez missed mounts as he dealt with family issues and
relapsed into drinking. That October, he reportedly texted then-agent Tony Matos
that he was going to take a break from riding.
Gomez, who rode Pioneerof the Nile to a runner-up effort in the 2009 Kentucky
Derby (G1), made his retirement official two days after his old partner’s son
American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown.
On a more personal level, the news comes a little more than a week after his
former agent during his heyday, Ron Anderson, underwent quadruple bypass
The convalescing Anderson, who now represents Joel Rosario, took to Twitter
to pay tribute to the retiring Gomez.
“One of the very elite riders of this generation…that I was lucky to work
with,” Anderson tweeted Monday.
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