Jockey Garrett Gomez says he's ready to go after finally getting clearance from stewards at Del Mar to ride workouts on the morning of Aug. 9 and in race competition the following day.
"It was frustrating and I feel in some ways mishandled, but I'm glad to have it behind me and ready to ride again," Gomez said Friday morning in the Del Mar stable area.
Gomez, who has not ridden since July 14, spent the morning receiving "welcome back" greetings from several horsemen. The two-time Eclipse Award winner worked two horses and is preparing for three mounts he is named aboard Aug. 10 in his meeting debut, among them Dice Flavor in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT). He has four more mounts Sunday.
Awaiting results of urine testing and filing the proper paperwork as part of a recent fine and suspension from stewards took longer than Gomez would have preferred. He missed mounts Aug. 7-9 as a result. A communication from Dr. Robert R. Johnson of the Amen Clinics giving medical clearance prompted stewards to approve his return Thursday afternoon.
Gomez said he has been maintaining a regular exercise routine, including running on the beach, and has no concerns about being in riding shape considering the relatively short absence.
The 41-year-old rider took off scheduled mounts the first two days of the meeting, July 17-18, and was absent from the track while being treated for an alcohol relapse until meeting with stewards on July 28.
A subsequent meeting with the stewards Aug. 2 resulted in a $1,000 fine and stipulations regarding further testing. Gomez is being tested for anti-depressant drug levels to ensure he is in condition to ride and is being required to meet daily with California Horse Racing Board investigators.
Tony Matos, Gomez's agent, said he has secured mounts for Gomez on Farraaj for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 25 and on San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Wishing Gate for the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 17.
Farraaj, an import from England, is due to arrive at Del Mar Aug. 13. Gomez has the most victories of any rider in the Pacific Classic with four, having guided Skimming (2000-2001), Borrego (2005), and Go Between (2008) to wins.