Garrett Gomez was the envy of every jockey June 14 at Churchill Downs. Who wouldn’t want to pick up the mount for the first time on a horse that had won eight of her previous 18 starts? Not to mention that she loves the distance and the racetrack.
Welcome to Gomez’ life as he entered the gate aboard Hystericalady, who would dominate her opponents on the way to a 7 ½-length score in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO).
The on-track crowd may have showed up to get a look at the reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), but they saw a dynamite performance from Hystericalady, who continues to be at the top of her game for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Hystericalady sat just behind Initforthekandy for the first half-mile (in :49.69) and the two would then switch positions and run one-two the rest of the nine-furlong race, Gomez letting the 5-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor out a notch at each pole as she coasted home the easiest kind of winner.
Sent off by the crowd at 1-2, she ran like those odds, being in hand the final sixteenth to cover the distance in 1:50.88 and return $3 and $2.20 to her faithful backers. Initforthekandy paid $7.20 to place as the longest shot (15-1) in the field reduced to five after the scratch of Cowgirls Don’t Cry. Kathleens Reel finished third but there was no show wagering.
"This is the first time I have ridden her and she is a nice, nice mare," Gomez said. "I thought there might be one or two more horses go for the lead. I eased her out at the half-mile and she moved on. At the head of the stretch, she gave me a little more kick than I was expecting."
Hystericalady has run well over the Churchill track all three times Hollendorfer has sent her there from his Northern California base. She won the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) on the Derby day undercard in 2007 and finished third, beaten a head, in the same race this Derby day.
"This worked out good for us," Hollendorfer said. "I am not sure when her next race is going to be, but it probably won’t be at Del Mar. I would think she may run two more times before the Breeders’ Cup."
The Fleur de Lis was the sixth stakes win for Hystericalady, who races for Hollendorfer in partnership with George Todaro, Tom Clark, and Rancho San Miguel. On the board in 14 of her 19 starts, Hystericalady, who was bred in Kentucky by Abbott Properties from the Northair mare Sacramentada, increased her lifetime earnings to $1,510,025.
For Gomez, his cut of the $199,578 she made June 14 may have been the easiest score of his riding career.