After a long absence from the sport, multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez made his retirement official June 8, more than a year and a half after his most recent mount.
In a post on his Facebook page, 43-year-old Gomez finally answered the question the racing industry has been asking since he took off mounts in October 2013, never to return again.
“I’d like everyone to know I’m officially retired from the sport of horse racing,” Gomez wrote. “I thank everyone for all I achieved that had a part in my career. I had a lot of awesome moments in this game.”
Gomez, a native of Tuscon, Ariz., won 13 Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) aboard Blame while defeating Horse of the Year Zenyatta. His record-setting career included breaking Jerry Baily’s record for most stakes victories in a season (76 in 2007), and four years spent as the nation’s top jockey in earnings.
He won the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2007 and 2008, and was given the 2011 George Woolf Memorial Award by his peers.
Along with Blame, his significant mounts included Pioneerof the Nile, sire of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, along with 2007 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches, Beholder, Colonel John, Any Given Saturday, Midnight Lute, Borrego, Discreet Cat, Indian Blessing, Wait A While, Stevie Wonderboy, Blind Luck, and Life Is Sweet.
Gomez retires with 3,769 wins from 21,639 mounts, with 3,329 seconds and 3,015 thirds. His mounts earned $205,224,899 in a career that spanned 1988-2013.
“I would like to thank everyone in the sport of horse racing for all the support I ever received in my career. I enjoyed every horse I ever rode and I thank all of them for making my career,” he wrote. “I’d like to apologize to all my fans for leaving the sport the way I did. Sometimes you have to do things in life for yourself.”
Gomez left the saddle in October 2013—his last mount was Oct. 5 of that year at Keeneland—after struggling through the summer with the substance-abuse issues that had plagued him for part of his career, including 2003 and 2004 when he did not ride at all. From June 9 through July 14 in 2013 he rode only four days due to “family issues,” and he participated in counseling in late July into August of that season before he was permitted to resume riding at Del Mar.
He was suspended by stewards pending a hearing the week of Oct. 10 at Santa Anita Park in 2013 after calling in to take off his mounts, and did not ride again.
Along with Rudolph Alvarado, Gomez is the co-author of The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation.