Home is where the heart is. For Garrett Gomez these days, that’s
Santa Anita. The Tucson
native, who turns 40 on New Year’s Day, has made Southern California his
home in recent years and resides in Duarte, a few furlongs from Santa
Anita, with his wife, Pam, and children Jared, Collin and Shelby.
Along with his many other accolades en route to a career that
should one day lead to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, Gomez will be
singularly remembered as the only jockey to vanquish the peerless mare
Zenyatta, who suffered her only defeat in 20 career races when Gomez
guided Blame to a pulsating head victory in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup
At the moment, Gomez is focused on Monday’s opening day at Santa
Anita, where among his mounts will be Hoorayforhollywood in the marquee
event, the Grade I Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Hoorayforhollywood is a son of Storm Cat who has been second in
photo finishes in his last three starts, losing by a nose last May 29, a
nose on Oct. 7 and a neck in the Delta Mile on Nov. 19. He broke his
maiden at first asking last Feb. 21 at Santa Anita.
Gomez has never ridden the Storm Cat colt owned by George
Krikorian and trained by Bob Baffert, so the jockey will do his homework
before the race.
“The past performances show you how he wants to run and what he’s
been doing, but of course I’ll consult with Bob and see what he wants
to do with him,” Gomez said. “Every race is a little different and could
require a different strategy. It depends on the other horses in the
race, the pace factor and everything that plays into each race.”
And when he gets aboard Hoorayforhollywood for the post parade?
“Someone who’s never ridden a particular horse before can’t get
a good line on how the horse is feeling,” Gomez said. “If you haven’t
ridden it before, you aren’t familiar with the horse’s routine, so you
wouldn’t know if it was doing anything different just from being on it
“There’s no precedent, so you have nothing to gauge it on. But
if you’ve ridden a horse a few times and it’s usually nice and laid
back, and you get on and it’s worked up and a little sweaty, well, you
wouldn’t want to see that.”
After extensive travel this year, Gomez is content to be home
for the Santa Anita meet, where he and agent Tony Matos will focus on
winning races and earning purse money.
“We have to regroup and find an approach that works for us and
for the schedule here,” Gomez said. “Me and Tony, we went to Keeneland,
and right before the Breeders’ Cup we had to do a lot of traveling, so
we’ve had to kind of restart a couple of times.
“At Del Mar, we got a little momentum going into the fall meet
at Santa Anita and then we had to start traveling again. It’s hard to
get your momentum going when you’re in and out and other riders are here
on a consistent basis, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to ride
some of the better horses, and that’s living on airplanes and
traveling. It’s a give and take proposition, but we’re happy with the
way it’s going.
“We’ve got to make it work maybe a little bit better. We’ll
figure it out. This is the big meet and to be home in Southern
California, this is where I want to be, with my family. Hopefully, we
make a nice impact throughout the meet, so we’ll see what we can do.”