Garrett Gomez, who rode Stevie Wonderboy and Artie Schiller to victory in the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, received the 2005 Bill Shoemaker Award for outstanding performance by a jockey on Breeders' Cup Championship day Sunday morning at Belmont Park.
The award is voted on by members of the racing media and a trophy was presented to Gomez by former jockey and Hall of Famer Pat Day at the annual press breakfast sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Association, Breeders' Cup, and New York Racing Association. Gomez was accompanied by his wife, Pam.
Day described Gomez as "a young man with tremendous talent, a great individual, and one who has overcome tremendous personal problems."
"I couldn't be happier to present this award to him," Day said. "I think that if yesterday is any indication, then he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the great sport of horse racing for years to come. He's a well-spoken young man and a real credit to our profession."
Gomez, 33, was out of the business for nearly two years because of drug and alcohol problems. He even went to jail for 40 days for possession of narcotics in 2003, and spent six months in rehab. He's now a leading rider on the West Coast.
"I'm lost for words," Gomez said as he accepted his trophy. "I was just happy to participate, much less win two, and to then to end up with the Bill Shoemaker Award is beyond my wildest dreams. I just have to thank everyone."
Gomez earned the first Breeders' Cup victory of his career in the $1.6 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) aboard Stevie Wonderboy, owned by entertainer and entrepreneur Merv Griffin and trained by Doug O'Neill, who also got his first Breeders' Cup win.
The jockey's second win of the day came in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) with Artie Schiller, who finished 12th in last year's Mile to come back to upset favorite Leroidesanimaux and take this year's edition by three-quarters of a length.
Prior to this year, Gomez' best Breeders' Cup finish came in 1999, when he was second in the Classic with Budroyale and third in the Turf with Buck's Boy. His last Breeders' Cup mount was in 2001 aboard Five Star Day, who finished eighth in the Sprint.
Last year John Velazquez received the Bill Shoemaker award, which honors the late legendary jockey. Alex Solis took home the honor in 2003. Edgar Prado was another favorite choice in the running for this year's award also with two victories and the first Breeders' Cup victory of his career.