Santa Anita leading jockey Garrett Gomez announced he is leaving for Keeneland next week while Rafael Bejarano, who has been sidelined since cracking two vertebrae in a spill on March 13 is nearing a return.
Gomez leads Santa Anita jockeys with 63 wins through March 28. Bejarano, who was leading the colony when he was injured, is second with 60.
“He’ll be back in L.A. on (April 1) and will see Dr. (Dan) Capen that afternoon, so the doctor can release him,” Bejarano's agent, Joe Ferrer said March 28. “He’ll be on horses Wednesday and Thursday morning and ride either Friday or Saturday of next week (April 4 and 5).”
Agent Ron Anderson said Gomez's last day of riding at Santa Anita would be March 31. The Eclipse Award-winning jockey would begin riding regularly at Keeneland when the meet starts on April 4.
In the meantime, Bejarano has been replaced by Ramon Dominguez on Ginger Punch in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 5. Trainer Bobby Frankel explained his decision by saying, “It (April 5) is a busy day, with many important races around the country, and I wasn’t sure Bejarano would be healthy enough to ride.”
Ferrer had given up the mount on Georgie Boy in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 5 to ride Ginger Punch in the Apple Blossom the same day, but wound up losing both mounts. Kent Desormeaux rides Georgie Boy in the Santa Anita Derby.