Thursday, May 07, 2009


FAMILIAR FACES ADD UP TO STRONG BELMONT JOCKEY COLONY


ELMONT, N.Y. – The day after riding Pioneerof the Nile to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Garrett Gomez was back in the irons at Belmont Park, where he will base his tack this spring for the fourth year in a row.

Gomez was one of seven New York jockeys to have a mount in the Derby, and returning to Belmont with him were Eibar Coa, Alan Garcia, Edgar Prado, Kent Desormeaux, Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez.


This year, Gomez plans to ride in New York through the fall, returning to California for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in late October. Gomez, who has 3,154 winners from 18,409 lifetime starts, has won two straight Eclipse awards and led the nation in earnings for the past three years. The 37-year-old native of Arizona owns the record for most stakes wins recorded in a single year, notching 75 in 2007, and he rode a record-breaking four winners in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup program.

“He’s a world-class rider,” said agent Ron Anderson. “He’s come to the East Coast this year and the past few years in search of quality horses and quality races.”

Hall of Fame-rider Kent Desormeaux will also base his tack in New York this spring and summer, continuing his pattern of riding in New York during the warmer months and heading to Florida each winter.

Ramon Dominguez – runaway leader in the Aqueduct jockey standings for the 2008-2009 inner-track meet and the brief spring main track meet that just concluded – announced earlier this year that he would make New York his home base going forward, rather than riding in Delaware this summer as he has done in the past.

Add to the mix John Velazquez, who was leading rider in New York for four straight years from 2001-2004; Hall of Famer Edgar Prado; Eibar Coa, who led the New York standings in 2006 and 2007, and the red-hot Alan Garcia, who led New York in victories last year, and Belmont Park’s spring/summer meet is once again shaping up to play host to the most competitive jockey colony in the nation.


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