December 16, 2016

Record-Breaking Jockey Garrett Gomez dead at 44

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Garrett Gomez, a jockey who won nearly 4,000 races during his 25-year career, including 13 Breeders' Cup victories, struggled mightily with substance abuse, and was found dead in southern Arizona on Wednesday. He was 44.

Garrett Gomez, a jockey who won nearly 4,000 races during his 25-year career, including 13 Breeders’ Cup victories, struggled mightily with substance abuse, and was found dead in southern Arizona on Wednesday. He was 44.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe officials said that Gomez had been found unconscious on the floor of a guest room at the Casino Del Sol Resort near Tucson and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Alfred Urbina, the tribe attorney general, said foul play is not being suspected as a possibility. The official cause of death won’t be available for several weeks, until after the toxicology reports are completed, he added.

Gomez ended his career with an amazing amount of 3,769 horse race victories. He led the nation in purse earnings from 2006 to 2009 and won Eclipse Awards as the country’s top jockey in 2007, when he won a record 76 stakes races, and in 2008. The struggles of his battles with substance abuse, and his life, were outlined in the 2012 book “The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction & Salvation,” written with Rudolph Alvarado.

However, his troubles soon returned.

In 2013, Gomez told California racing officials that he was seeking treatment for alcoholism and was dealing with a multitude of personal problems.

Despite his personal struggles, Gomez, known as Go-Go at tracks, was among the most professional and well-liked riders in the game, especially during his prime years. Among his Breeders’ Cup victories was the memorable 2010 Classic, when he rode Blame and handed Zenyatta her only career loss.

Go-Go began his racing career in New Mexico at age 16 after he dropped out of high school. He faced his father, Louie Gomez, in at least four races.

Unfortunately, Gomez was never able to win a Triple Crown race. He finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby atop Pioneer of the Nile and third in the 1994 Preakness Stakes with Concern. He last rode at Keeneland in Kentucky in October 2013, though he did not make his retirement official until June 2015.

“I enjoyed every horse I ever rode and I thank all of them for making my career,” Gomez wrote on his Facebook page when he announced his retirement. “I’d like to apologize to all my fans for leaving the sport the way I did.”

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