A dynamic force in the saddle, retired jockey Garrett Gomez, a two-time Eclipse Champion, was found dead Wednesday in Tucson, Az. at the age of 44. According to several media reports, Gomez, who had been living primarily in his native Tucson for the past two years, was found at a casino/hotel he had checked into on tribal land near Tucson.
A phenomenal talent who was regarded as perhaps the strongest finisher of his era, Gomez was America’s leading rider by money-won for four consecutive years, from 2006 through 2009. He was voted America’s Eclipse Champion Jockey in 2007 and 2008 and was selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2011.
Gomez, who dead heated with Victor Espinoza as Santa Anita’s Winter Meet leader in 2006-07, won 13 Breeders’ Cup races, highlighted by a dramatic head victory in the 2010 Classic at Churchill Downs aboard Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame, who handed the legendary Zenyatta her lone career defeat.
The son of a jockey, Louie Gomez, Garrett Gomez, who last rode at Keeneland in October 2013, won 3,769 career races and along with agent Ron Anderson, set a single-season record in 2007 by winning 76 added-money races. The following year, his mounts accounted for a career-high $23,344,351—just $10,000 short of Jerry Bailey’s all-time single season record.
An avid golfer, Gomez, who along with his second wife Pam, owned a home in nearby Duarte, devoted much of his time to the links when based in Southern California from the late 1990s until he stopped riding in 2013.
Gomez, who would have turned 45 on Jan. 1, is survived by four children, a son, Collin, and a daughter, Shelby, from his first marriage, and by a daughter, Amanda, and son, Jared, from his second.