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Gomez Returns to the Saddle

Garrett GomezTwo-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, made a second comeback on Thursday at Santa Anita attempt since fracturing his left heel in a paddock mishap on Jan. 8.

Gomez piloted 6-year-old Florida-bred Kelly Leak to a second-place finish in Santa Anita’s fifth race on and pronounced his left heel “70 percent” better than in his previous comeback try on March 9.

“I felt really good,” said Gomez following his 6 ½-furlong trip down Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.  “Especially when you get the juices flowing and you have a chance to win one.  My ankle feels good.

“I don’t want to overly stress it.  On a pain scale, I’d say I was at a six or a seven last time (March 9).  Today I was a two or a one.

Following his paddock accident on Jan. 8, Gomez underwent reconstructive surgery to repair his injured heel.

“It’s not the (surgically inserted) screws or the plate that hurts,” he said. “The pain comes from the scar tissue and from the tendon that runs behind the ankle.  I’ve been able to strengthen the muscle in that area and that’s helped a lot.”

Gomez is taking Friday off and he is named on three horses on both Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita.

“By the time I come back on Saturday, I should be good,” said Gomez, who was America’s leading jockey by money-won over four consecutive years, 2006, ’07, ’08 and ’09.

Santa Anita Publicity contributed to this report.

Garrett Gomez/Benoit Photo