Garrett Gomez is no stranger to winning Breeders' Cup races, especially at Santa Anita. The 40-year-old Tucson, Arizona, native has 12 such victories overall on his growing and glowing resume, including four in 2008 and one in 2009 when the World Championship events were held at The Great Race Place.
Gomez hit a "Grand Slam" in 2008, winning the Dirt Mile on Albertus Maximus, the Sprint on Midnight Lute, the Juvenile aboard Midshipman and the Filly & Mare Sprint on Ventura. In 2009, he won the Ladies' Classic on Life Is Sweet.
Among his mounts this year are probable favorite Beholder, a filly that would be running against males in the Juvenile Sprint; talented three-year-old Jimmy Creed in the Sprint, both trained by Richard Mandella; and Richard's Kid for trainer Doug O'Neill in the Classic.
Additionally, agent Tony Matos has booked Gomez on the following Breeders' Cup horses: Grassy (Marathon); Switch (Filly & Mare Sprint); Marketing Mix (Filly & Mare Turf); Reneesgotzip (Turf Sprint or Filly & Mare Sprint); Slim Shadey (Turf); and Jeranimo (Mile).
Gomez was happy with Beholder and Jimmy Creed after he worked them at Santa Anita recently. Beholder went five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 last Thursday, and Jimmy Creed fired a bullet :59 4/5 when going the same distance last Wednesday.
"Both went really well," Gomez said. "They sat off of other horses and kind of cruised. Both have good races coming into the Breeders' Cup. Richard wasn't looking for hard works for them, but both worked very well."
Gomez was not overly concerned about Beholder facing males.
"It doesn't matter," he reasoned. "When they're this young, and when you look at some of the Beyer numbers on the fillies, they're faster than the colts. This time of year, I don't think it makes much of a difference.
"For me, it's nice to ride at Santa Anita when my home is so close by. I enjoy being here for the Breeders' Cup, and I had a couple lucky years here, too. Hopefully, I'll have one of those four-baggers again."
O'Neill was delighted with getting Gomez back aboard Richard's Kid for the Classic. Gomez rode him last time to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Awesome Again (formerly the Goodwood).
"Garrett is a great rider," O'Neill said. "He's got ice in his veins, and I love the fact that he's ridden Richard's Kid for me once, and he's gotten a chance to know him. Having a big-race rider like Garrett in the biggest race of the year, on a horse he's already ridden and knows, I couldn't ask for a better scenario."
Gomez will be part of a crowded jockeys' room next Friday and Saturday, so much so that Charlie McCaul could hang up a "No Vacancy" sign.
The assistant clerk of scales, who directs operations amid the hubbub in the room where the riders reside on race days, pretty much has it down to a science when it comes to accommodations for visitors, so panic is not in his mindset.
"Normally, we'll have 15 to 20 riders in the room," McCaul said, with any one valet taking care of the needs of up to as many as five riders on a given day. "But for the Breeders' Cup, we have to make sure one valet doesn't have too many jockeys.
"If one valet has eight guys and another three, then one valet will be overwhelmed, so I have to make certain there is balance but also see that every jockey is well taken care of.
"On Breeders' Cup days, we could have as many as 30 riders in the room, but we've been through it before, so this is nothing new."