An interview with:
ERIC WING: We're joined late out of necessity, because he's been such a busy man today, Garret Gomez. Three wins on the day. The winner of the weekend's Bill Shoemaker Award as the weekend's outstanding jockey.
Garrett, congratulations. You had one winner yesterday and a three‑bagger today on the best day there is to have a three‑bagger. And your three winners, Albertus Maximus, Midshipman, and Midnight Lute, kind of covered the gamut of riding and your talents. You won one race aboard Midshipman, going wire to wire, virtually; Albertus Maximus from off the pace, Midnight Lute from way off the pace.
As great as all three victories are, will any one ride be most memorable in your book from today?
GARRETT GOMEZ: They were all great. I mean, I enjoyed all of them. Any time you end up in the winner's circle and especially on a day like today, it just gives you an amazing feeling.
You know, I was glad to win one, and I was wanting to win more coming into today. When I got my first one today, I thought, Here we go, maybe we'll get lucky and get another one. Then another one rolled over, and I ended up winning another one. And it was like, Wow, this is amazing.
So the horses showed up. The guys that I rode for today led them over. It was just a wonderful feeling.
Q. I know as a rider sometimes your memory only goes back as far as your last ride. And Go Between was somewhat disappointing for you though he did finish fifth.
But now that you've had a good 45 minutes to let it soak in, is this the best day of your career?
GARRETT GOMEZ: Definitely. This has been a wonderful weekend. It's been a great day. A great two days. You know, like you said, the Go Between trip was a horror trip. Most of the time you like those trips, but it was a horrible trip today. But he was there for us.
Bill led him over and had him ready. We just didn't have any kind of racing luck today. And that's horse racing.
Q. Whenever a jockey or a trainer or anybody wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, thoughts always turn to the next year's triple crown, Kentucky Derby in particular, since that's the first one that comes by. It's not known yet where Midshipman will actually be going next. But it was stated that it's pretty safe to assume that a trip to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is likely. Based on your ride today, what are your thoughts, if any, on a mile and a quarter?
GARRETT GOMEZ: Well, I mean, it's a little early in the year to really figure out a mile and a quarter. But, you know, he's a good looking colt. He's a long striding horse. You know, he's got the movements to go the mile and a quarter.
You know, now it's just a transfer over to dirt, which I don't think will be a problem. I think the way his action is, that he'll actually relish the dirt. So up until the time we get a chance to see him on it, we're in the blind. But I'm excited. And you know, ready for the 3‑year‑old campaign to start, and the mile and a quarter races.
Q. You spent more time this season here in California rather than in New York or in Kentucky. Was that a purposeful move to get better mounts and better business for this specific event?
GARRETT GOMEZ: No, not really. A lot of my business is based on the weekends. You know, that's got a lot to do with the kind of business that Ron has got for us. We do a lot of shipping.
This year in New York, my daily business just wasn't a lot to be desired for me. I thought if I'm going to ship ‑‑ I think the whole time I was in New York, I think I was there like one weekend, I realized my family was here, and I just figured, you know what, if I'm going to ship and I have to fly somewhere every weekend anyway, and I'm not riding that many horses during the week, I might as well do it from here.
My kids are going to school, and I can be around them. You know, I thought, I'll go spend the summer with my family at Del Mar, and when they get back in school here, we can start getting cranked up for Breeders' Cup and see how it goes.
You know, it worked out well for us this year.
Q. Aside from the weather, could you compare Midnight Lute's win in the Breeders' Cup win this year to the win last year?
GARRETT GOMEZ: I think his performance this year was actually better. The simple fact was because he only had one race this year, if you want to call it that. You know, when he ‑‑ that race, he got away bad. He stepped on himself. You know, Bob didn't know if he was even going to make it to the Breeders' Cup. It looked like he was going to have to probably pass on it. And then all of a sudden, he started to blossom and starting to move forward for him. For a horse to do what he's done, it takes a great horse to do that. He proved that.
Q. Also want to just ask you your thoughts on being the first Breeders' Cup jockey ever to win three races in one day?
GARRETT GOMEZ: It's an amazing feeling, really. A couple years ago, I got really close to doing so. Even last year, I got fairly close. I ran third, got beaten half a length on Octave on the distaff. So going into today, you always ‑‑ when you have as many mounts as we had, you wanted to win as many as you can. But to actually be able to accomplish it and actually have it in the back of your mind as a goal is quite amazing.
Q. On Midnight Lute when you guys were coming around the turn, did you feel that when you felt that burst of acceleration, did you just think, Oh, boy, here we go, this is him kicking in?
GARRETT GOMEZ: Well, he's so big, it's just like when you get him up on his feet. And that was the asset about today also. He did take the blinkers off of him, and usually he's like a ‑‑ you seen the size of him. He's humongous. And as far as a jockey, he's actually kind of difficult to ride because he is so big, and he covers so much ground. It's almost like you need clearance for two horses in between the horse in front of you because he covers so much ground. And to get him in traffic is just like a nightmare. It's like being down in Manhattan and gridlock on a bus.
So when he was able to just leave the gate, and he actually settled ‑‑ with the blinkers on the last couple of times, mor the times that I had ridden him, after he breaks the way he usually breaks in a tangle, he gets up and almost panics. He's like a runaway train. You can't really do a whole lot with him.
Today when I left the gate, I dropped my hands and he just relaxed. It was like, Okay, this is what I've been looking for. And I was actually just waiting on David to see what he was going to do on the horse in front of me. He sat there on the inside a little while. When I thought it was time to get him up on his feet, I got him up on his feet.
Once you get him moving forward, like I said, he's like a runaway train. And he just covered so much ground. It was just like, keep everybody out of his path. Give him a free path. And you're not worried about the ground you're losing, because once he gets up on his feet, his stride is two of theirs.
You guys seen him coming into the last 1/16th, his ears were forward, he's pulling up and opening up. It feels like he's holding the brakes on to me. When you watch the film, he's actually still moving away from them. That's just how much ground he covers. He's just an amazing horse.
Q. We've heard from some of the trainers about the two‑day weekend and having the filly races on Friday. Can you just summarize for us the level of excitement in the jocks' room this weekend? Clean, safe racing, perfect weather. Just what it was like for you and your colleagues over the last 48 hours.
GARRETT GOMEZ: Well, I mean, it's been amazing. It's really an exhausting two days, because, you know, everybody's got to be on the top of their game, no mistakes, a lot of pressure situations, because every race you go out is another million, $2 million, $3 million race.
But sharing the jocks' room that I share with the jocks over the weekend is a class full of guys in there. The classiest guys I've ever seen surrounded in one room. And it's been amazing for me to get to experience that. I'm glad to experience it with the guys that were in there.
ERIC WING: Congratulations, not just on a great day, but a great two days for you. The Sixth Annual Bill Shoemaker Award win to boot. And continued success to you as you close out 2008.
GARRETT GOMEZ: Thank you very much.
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