Two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez hasn’t slowed down at age 40, winning his third stakes race at Santa Anita Jan. 2 after having captured a pair on his birthday Jan. 1.
As he had done Jan. 1 while winning twice from off the pace aboard the second choice in each case, Gomez drove second-choice Mizdirection to a come-from-behind upset in the Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 6 1/2 furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old filly is trained by Mike Puype for partnership owners James and Janet Rome Family Trust’s Jungle Racing; Daniel Grohs of Arcadia; and Robert Strauss of Pomona.
The Monrovia was supposed to belong to course specialist Unzip Me, the 6-5 favorite who was aiming to become only the second back-to-back winner of the race, and the mare appeared to be making a winning bid in midstretch while seeking her seventh victory in 10 starts over the course.
But Gomez rallied in his familiar fast-closing style on the outside with 3-1 Mizdirection, who ran past Unzip Me and others to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
Longshot Wild Mia gained second by a nose over Unzip Me and Separate Forest, who dead-heated for the show place. The winning time was 1:11.64.
“My horse broke running and she got up on her feet right away,” said Gomez. “I didn’t expect to have any horses in front of me because I didn’t feel like there was that much speed.” Gomez, however, found himself surrounded by opposition.
“So I just dropped her head and let her place herself,” he continued. “She kept herself where she was fairly comfortable and traveled good down the hill. I didn’t want to hold her up too much after we crossed the dirt. She traveled well, did everything good, and this was a good experience first time down the hill.”
Mizdirection, a 4-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast out of the Clever Trick mare Deceptive, won the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar last August and gained her first graded stakes victory in the Monrovia. She hasn’t been off the board in eight starts while compiling a 4-3-1 record.
The winning purse of $60,000 increased Mizdirection’s career earnings to $255,711. An $85,000 yearling, she most recently fetched $50,000 at the 2010 Fasig Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training.
“Garrett Gomez can host the show tomorrow,” said Rome, a radio and television personality. “Garrett can do my TV show; it’s Garrett’s world, whatever he wants. Garrett Gomez is burning. I’ve had a lot of really good things happen to me in business and in life, but nothing has ever felt as good as that felt, in a professional sense...I don’t know anything that’s ever felt that good.”
The pair of stakes victories by Gomez’s mounts on New Year’s Day included Bauble Queen in the Robert J. Frankel Stakes (gr. IIT) and Rumor in the Kalookan Queen Handicap.
“It was a good race,” added Puype. “She sprints with anyone on the turf, the way she ran today. She showed another dimension, too. She came from further back today. They were really flying sand, and she kicked it in. I couldn’t be prouder of her effort or the ride Garrett put on her. It was a big race. It’s a dream come true to have a good filly like this that can do this kind of work on the grass at that distance.”
Mizdirection paid $8.40, $4.60, and $2.80. Wild Mia, sent off a 28-1 with David Flores aboard, returned $17.20 and $6.40. Separate Forest, ridden by Hector Berrios, paid $3 for her portion of the show. The show mutuel on Unzip Me was $2.10.