LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 4, 2011) - Jockey Garrett Gomez could win an unprecedented fifth Bill Shoemaker award while competing in this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The Bill Shoemaker Award, presented to the outstanding jockey in the Nov. 4-5 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, is based on the highest finishes of riders competing in the 15 races of the Championships.
Gomez, 39, won his first Bill Shoemaker award in 2005. He took home the award in 2007 and 2008, and was the Breeders’ Cup’s outstanding jockey for a fourth time last year with his three wins – in the Juvenile Fillies Turf aboard More Than Real, the Juvenile Turf aboard Pluck, and the Classic aboard Blame. Those victories increased his total in the Breeders' Cup to 12, moving him to fourth in all-time wins behind Jerry Bailey's 15, Mike Smith's 13, and Pat Day's 12.
The Shoemaker Award is named in honor of one of the greatest jockeys in the history of Thoroughbred racing. Shoemaker, a winner of the Kentucky Derby four times, won more than 8,800 races in a career that spanned more than 40 years. In 1987, at 56, Shoemaker won the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Ferdinand.
“The Shoemaker Award is one of my favorite honors and one that means a lot to me,” Gomez said Thursday in the Churchill jockey’s room. “When I was 18 years old, Bill Shoemaker was going on his farewell tour and I always looked up to him. He was a class act and someone to be respected. Whenever I walk into my trophy room, seeing my Shoemaker Awards makes me smile. Not only do they represent the hard work and dedication that go into having a successful run at the Breeders’ Cup, but they represent the memory of a rider who was a legend in our sport.”
Gomez, who resides in California, will ride 11 mounts in Breeders’ Cup races this weekend – including Miss Match in the Ladies’ Classic on Friday and Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice in Saturday’s Classic.