“He pulled pretty good, which makes it tougher, but I can handle it,” said Gomez, North America’s Eclipse Award winning rider in 2007 and ’08. “I’m happy just to be back. I prepare to win every time I go out there but the main thing for me right now is that I’m able to handle this physically and keep the pain under control.
Owned by Robert S. Evans, Smug paid $8.00, $4.20 and $3.00. According to the Equibase chart, Smug, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by El Prado, “…came three wide into the stretch, rallied under left handed urging to gain the lead in deep stretch and won clear.” He tracked early fractions of 24.20, 48.45, 1:12.30 and 1:35.75.
Smug was making his second start off a nine month layoff and now sports a 2-0-2 record from seven starts. With the winner’s share of $34,800, his earnings now stand at $78,910.
Gomez, who initiated his comeback on Thursday finishing second and third with his only two mounts, had no riding engagements Friday. He has three scheduled mounts today, including Twice the Appeal, who is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the featured Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup.
He is named on three horses at Santa Anita on Sunday, including Hog’s Hollow in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes and Cambina in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes.
Gomez was North America’s leading rider by money-won four consecutive years, 2006, ’07, ’08 and ’09.
First post time for the nine-race card Sunday is 12:30 p.m.