Garrett Gomez

Garrett Gomez

Benoit Photo

Gomez Recuperating After Surgery

Top jockey's absence opens up a number of lucrative stakes opportunities for others.

Jockey Garrett Gomez was at home resting on the morning of Jan. 13 after undergoing successful surgery to repair a broken left heel the previous afternoon.

Specialist Dr. Jae H. Chon inserted a plate and 10 screws to stabilize the injury in a three-hour procedure at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles Jan. 12.

“The bone was broken all the way through,” said Gomez, who expects to miss five to eight weeks of time in the saddle. “I have a cast on it now and an IV pump shooting Novocain into the back of my knee down into my foot; I keep that for three days. They said after two weeks with the cast on, I can start rehab, but I have to take it super slow.”

The 40-year-old rider was off to a flying start with six stakes wins through the first 10 days of the Santa Anita meet, but suffered the injury Jan. 8 when his mount, Silver Summation, unseated him before flipping over backward on a walkway en route to the track prior to the Daytona Stakes (gr. III). The horse was scratched.

“I hope they’re actually going to change that walkway between the paddock and the racetrack now,” Gomez remarked. “I told them it’s not that big of a deal to change it, just put up a hedge or something so at least the horses won’t feel claustrophobic walking through the crowd; put a little path through there with some dirt for the horses to walk on, and things will be a lot safer overall for everyone involved.”

The absence of the two-time Eclipse Award winner at Santa Anita as a result of the accident will unquestionably have an impact on the local riding colony. Among his stakes wins was the Sham (gr. III) aboard the promising Out of Bounds, and he had also been named to ride Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Jeranimo , the favorite in the Jan. 16 San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT). He was replaced by Martin Garcia.

“Like always, it’s the trickle-down theory,” said Richie Silverstein, agent for Martin Pedroza and Kayla Stra. “Garrett is the third-leading rider (at the meet), he’s got tremendous stakes business, and in the famous words of the late (agent) Bill Barisoff, ‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain.’

“Everybody below him moves up one. But to Garrett’s credit, when he does come back, his business should still be there. When you’re among the top jocks, like him, (Rafael) Bejarano, (Joel) Rosario and possibly (Victor) Espinoza, you don’t lose business like some of the riders in the second tier.”