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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Can Gomez Get The Monkey Off His Back?

After watching the thrilling charges of Phil and Tiger this afternoon and remembering back when Mickelson had not yet won a major, I started thinking to myself, what jockey currently holds the title of "best jockey to never win a classic?" Let's just say the caption to the inset would answer the question with the following: "This Guy!"

Johnny V got the monkey off his back (and his usual trainer Pletcher as well) at the 2007 Belmont with Rags to Riches, a race where Gomez had a pretty decent shot with a horse named Hard Spun, that he would also ride for the last time. Similar to when Mickelson was the best golfer to not win a major, winning all kinds of regular PGA events, Gomez has a lot of other big stakes races under his belt.

He is the leading jockey in earnings for the past three years, as well as the Eclipse Award winning jockey for the last two years. He is the best jockey in the world, bar none. But. He hasn't won the big one. Sure, he's won something like eight Breeders' Cup races, but no classics. Zero. Is this the year? Does he feel pressure to win the Derby? He has a major decision to make in choosing his Derby horse, as it appears based on the latest graded earnings at the TT website, that Pletcher's Dunkirk should sneak in the back door. I am going to bet he stays on Pioneerof the Nile for Baffert, but both would give him the chance to win it. Wouldn't it be something if he picked the wrong horse and the other won?

He turned 37 on New Year's Day, so his opportunities dwindle with each year that passes. He's done everything else there is to do, he's won the Kentucky Oaks, the Travers, the Bluegrass Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby, the Goodwood and the Cigar Mile. Not a bad list of races. You can bet he wants to add a Classic to that list, though. Let's hope he get's it off his back, just like Phil.


San Anita Piper said...

Do you not think this guys knows this.
Reverse who would you pick??

Gene Kershner said...

Piper: I'm pretty sure he's aware of it...but it doesn't get the press that Mickelson got..IMHO.

I would go with Dunkirk, showed that he can go on dirt...PoTN seems tough to handle and has only won on the fake stuff...

Thanks for reading.

JB said...

As you may recall, Larry Jones offered Gomez the mount on Hard Spun in the Belmont after Mario Pino lost his mount in a mis-timed ride; going too fast too early in the 2007 Preakness. Jones, rightfully thinking the Preakness was Spun's best chance at Triple Crown immortality, based on Pino's Pimilico experience (Jones and Pino were Maryland based guys), was livid after the second jewel. Gomez was Rags regular jock and rode Mr. Tabor's AP Indy filly with tremendous success in graded stakes company on the west coast. However, Todd P. was not sure if he was going to run her at a mile and half for the white carnations. Gomez had already committed to Jones when Rags' connections made a very sporting, and in hindsight, a very wise decision to take on the colts in New York. Johnny V. took the mount, and as the say... the rest is history. Actually it was history as she was the first filly to win the third leg of the triple crown in over a 100 years.

San Anita Piper said...

I have to think that he does not have the Derby horse in his two choices.
But what is going on with Chocolate Candy as Smith is now the Jock on board.
Three jocks last three racees????.

Gene Kershner said...

Mac: I think he's gonna stay with PoTN who is suspect on dirt, I just have a gut feel about it.

Regarding CC, I think Mike Smith is a good choice and gives him a great chance if he gets the perfect trip...he's done it before with Giacomo...

Thanks for stopping back!


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