Jockey Garrett Gomez, who fractured his left heel in a paddock mishap
on Jan. 8 which subsequently required reconstructive surgery, won his
first race since the injury in Saturday’s second race, stalking the
early pace and guiding the Neil Drysdale-conditioned Smug to a 1 ½
length win going 1 ¼ miles on turf in 1:59.50.
“He pulled pretty good, which makes it tougher, but I can handle
it,” said Gomez, North America’s Eclipse Award winning rider in 2007
and ’08. “I’m happy just to be back. I prepare to win every time I go
out there but the main thing for me right now is that I’m able to handle
this physically and keep the pain under control.
“I worked two horses this morning and it really helped me. I
felt much better and I wasn’t limping like I have been when I walked out
to the paddock to ride.”
Owned by Robert S. Evans, Smug paid $8.00, $4.20 and $3.00.
According to the Equibase chart, Smug, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt
by El Prado, “…came three wide into the stretch, rallied under left
handed urging to gain the lead in deep stretch and won clear.” He
tracked early fractions of 24.20, 48.45, 1:12.30 and 1:35.75.
Smug was making his second start off a nine month layoff and now
sports a 2-0-2 record from seven starts. With the winner’s share of
$34,800, his earnings now stand at $78,910.
Gomez, who initiated his comeback on Thursday finishing second
and third with his only two mounts, had no riding engagements Friday.
He has three scheduled mounts today, including Twice the Appeal, who is
the 5-2 morning line favorite in the featured Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo
He is named on three horses at Santa Anita on Sunday,
including Hog’s Hollow in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes and Cambina
in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes.
Gomez was North America’s leading rider by money-won four consecutive years, 2006, ’07, ’08 and ’09.