Nicknamed “Go-Go” for his ability to urge his mounts to their maximum speed and effort, Garrett Gomez is one of the most successful jockeys in the modern era. His skills as a jockey are often put on display in the biggest races America has to offer.
Like many professional jockeys, Gomez turned to racing at a very young age. He dropped out of school to become a professional jockey in September of 1988 and began his career on the smaller race tracks of the American southwest. In 1989 he racked up the second most wins for an apprentice jockey, 182, in a season that foreshadowed the greatness that would follow.
In the early 1990’s trainers were beginning to notice Gomez’s ability as a jockey and he began to ride some of the best thoroughbreds in racing. This led to back-to-back victories in the Arkansas Derby aboard Concern and Dazzling Falls in 1994 and 1995. With his career in full swing, Gomez set his sights on the illustrious racetracks of California. He was an immediate success, winning the riding title at Hollywood Park in 1998.
Garrett’s racetrack success was briefly halted, however, in 2003 after a battle with substance abuse issues forced the jockey to serve jail time. He made a return to the track in 2004, stating that he was clean and sober, and instantly resumed his winning ways. Since that time Gomez has ridden for trainers such as Robert Frankel and Todd Pletcher. In 2007 and 2008, Gomez won horseracing’s Eclipse Award for Jockey of the Year. His most memorable recent moment was guiding Blame to a victory over Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic. It was Zenyatta’s first defeat.
In October of 2013, Garrett Gomez inexplicably fired his agent and walked away from horseracing, stating that he didn’t “want to ride for a while.” The move left many speculating about whether Gomez’s substance abuse struggles had returned. Now past his 40th year, Gomez may be facing the end of his career as a professional jockey. Until that is confirmed he is a force to be reckoned with any time he takes the reins in a race.