Garrett Gomez

Garrett Gomez

Benoit Photo

Gomez Back in Saddle at Santa Anita

Two-time Eclipse Award winner finishes second and third with two Santa Anita mounts.

Two time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez, in his second comeback attempt since fracturing his left heel in a paddock mishap on Jan. 8, piloted Kelly Leak to a second-place finish in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park March 22.

Gomez, who also finished third in the seventh race aboard the Marty Jones-trained Rauschenberg, pronounced his heel “70% better" than in his abortive comeback try at Santa Anita March 9.

“I felt really good,” said Gomez following his ride aboard 6-year-old Kelly Leak in a 6 ½-furlong trip down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. “Especially when you get the juices flowing and you have a chance to win one. My ankle feels good.

“I don’t want to overly stress it. On a pain scale, I’d say I was at a six or a seven last time," Gomez added. "Today I was a two or a one.”

Following his injury, Gomez underwent reconstructive surgery to repair the damaged heel.

“It’s not the (surgically inserted) screws or the plate that hurts," he said. "The pain comes from the scar tissue and from the tendon that runs behind the ankle. I’ve been able to strengthen the muscle in that area and that’s helped a lot.”

Kelly Leak, who was entered for a claiming tag of $25,000 and was off at odds of 8-1, made the lead nearing the sixteenth pole but could not withstand the late charge of 3-2 favorite Crossing The Line and Joel Rosario. Kelly Leak was beaten by one length.

Gomez will take March 23 off. He is named on three horses on both March 24 and 25 at Santa Anita.

“By the time I come back on Saturday, I should be good,” said Gomez, who was America’s leading jockey by money-won over four consecutive years, 2006-09.