At the Saratoga Harness simulcast last weekend, a crescendo was beginning to rise as Hunting beneath Alan Garcia was beginning to cut Utopias leading margin with every stride. After Hunting reached the finish line first in the Stuyvesant Handicap, someone in the group behind me said: Looks like this kid Garcia is going to be the next Bailey.

Actually, Hall of Famer Jerry Dale Bailey already has a successor, the heir apparent to the unofficial title of Go-To Stakes Jockey.

Garcia is a truly exciting star jockey prospect. But its not because his performance aboard Hunting was anything special. The favored Utopia had done the dirty work, racing a loose leader into defeat. To Garcias credit, he didnt rattle, instead waiting until the last instant before putting a ride on his late running colt.

Rather, it was his effort aboard Dantastic that was anything but routine. It was the kind of ride that one day will vault the young man into the pantheon that will make him the equal of Bailey, a fellow Hall of Famer.

Coincidentally, it was on the turf, the surface over which Bailey became celebrated and earned him the nickname Greenlight because of the way the inside path, the shortest way home, was always there when he needed it.

Saving ground into the stretch, Garcia found room to the outside between rivals, ducked back to the fence when a lane opened, and waited until the final split second to swing out a second time and nail the leader right on the line.

The maneuver compelled racecaller John Imbriale to shout: Dantastic won it, what a ride by Alan Garcia!

And it was Garcia that was absolutely the difference between victory and defeat aboard Lahudood at Belmont Park and Shakis in Saratoga.

But it is Garrett Gomez, who last weekend became the all-time leading single-season stakes winning jockey with his 71st victory of the year, who is the heir apparent. Its Gomez whos first on the speed dial of every trainer in America with a good horse.

This weekend, GG will ride the stakes favorite at Churchill Downs tomorrow, have two stakes rides at Hollywood Park Friday, will return East to ride Midnight Lute in the Hill n Dale Cigar Mile on Saturday, then return to Hollywood to ride favorites in two Grade 1s grass stakes on Sunday.

Garrett Gomez is not the next Bailey. Gomez already is the new Bailey.