Jockey Garrett Gomez is resting after surgery

Jockey Garrett Gomez was at home resting the day after he had successful surgery to repair a broken left heel.  Specialist Dr. Jae H. Chon of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic inserted a plate and 10 screws to stabilize the injury in a three-hour procedure on January 12.

“The bone was broken all the way through,” said Gomez, who expects to miss anywhere from five to eight weeks of time in the saddle. “I have a cast on it now and an IV pump shooting Novocain into the back of my knee down into my foot; I keep that for three days. They said after two weeks with the cast on, I can start rehab, but I have to take it super slow.”

Garrett was off to a phenomenal start with six stakes wins through the first 10 days of the Santa Anita meet.  The heel injury happened on Sunday, January 8 when his mount, Silver Summation unseated him before flipping over backward on a walkway on the way to the track prior to the eighth race.  With his heel surgery, Garrett will soon be back on track for riding in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.  The day before his injury, he rode ‘Out of Bounds’ to victory in a 2012 Kentucky Derby prep race,  the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

“I hope they’re actually going to change that walkway between the paddock and the racetrack now,” Gomez remarked. “I told them it’s not that big of a deal to change it, just put up a hedge or something so at least the horses won’t feel claustrophobic walking through the crowd; put a little path  through there with some dirt for the horses to walk on, and things will be a lot safer overall for everyone involved.”

The absence of the two-time Eclipse Award winner at Santa Anita Park as a result of the accident will definitely have an impact on the local riding colony.  Jockey agents are talking to owners and trainers about mounts.

“Like always, it’s the trickle-down theory,” said Richie Silverstein, agent for Santa Anita based jockeys Martin Pedroza and Kayla Stra. “Garrett is the third-leading rider, he’s got tremendous stakes business, and in the famous words of the late Bill Barisoff, ‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain.’

“Everybody below him moves up one. But to Garrett’s credit, when he does come back, his business should still be there. When you’re among the top jocks, like him, Bejarano, Rosario and possibly Espinoza, you don’t lose business like some of the riders in the second tier.”

This spring, Caballo Press of Ann Arbor will release Garrett’s book, “Saving Go-Go, A Jockey’s Journey through Addiction and Salvation” by Rudolph Alvarado with Garrett Gomez.