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Gomez Back in the Saddle at Santa Anita

Two time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez, in his second comeback attempt since fracturing his left heel in a paddock mishap on Jan. 8, piloted 6-year-old Kelly Leak to a second place finish in Santa Anita’s fifth race on Thursday and pronounced his left heel “70 percent” better than in his abortive comeback try here on March 9.

 

“I felt really good,” said Gomez following his 6 ½ furlong trip down Santa Anita’s downhill turf course. “Especially when you get the juices flowing and you have a chance to win one. My ankle feels good.

 

“I don’t want to overly stress it. On a pain scale, I’d say I was at a six or a seven last time (March 9). Today I was a two or a one.”

 

Following his paddock accident on Jan. 8, Gomez underwent reconstructive surgery to repair his injured heel.

 

“It’s not the (surgically inserted) screws or the plate that hurts. The pain comes from the scar tissue and from the tendon that runs behind the ankle. I’ve been able to strengthen the muscle in that area and that’s helped a lot.”

 

Kelly Leak, who was entered for a claiming tag of $25,000 and was off at odds of 8-1, made the lead nearing the sixteenth pole but could not withstand the late charge of 3-2 favorite Crossing The Line and Joel Rosario. Kelly Leak was beaten by one length.

 

Gomez was named on two horses for Thursday, including the Marty Jones-trained Rauschenberg in the seventh race, who finished third.

 

Gomez will take Friday off and he is named on three horses on both Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita.

 

“By the time I come back on Saturday, I should be good,” said Gomez, who was America’s leading jockey by money-won over four consecutive years, 2006, ’07, ’08 and ’09.

 

 

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