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Gomez wins big on Go Between

Jockey rides the colt to a neck victory in the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

August 25, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

DEL MAR -- Another day, another million-dollar ride by Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez.

One day after guiding Colonel John to a nose victory in the $1-million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Gomez hopped onto a private plane Sunday morning in Albany, N.Y., stopped in Illinois and Colorado to refuel and made it back to Del Mar in time to urge Go Between to a neck victory over Well Armed in the Grade I $1-million Pacific Classic in front of 30,102.

"I feel I've won two of the most prestigious races of the summer on the same weekend," Gomez said.

As if the weekend wasn't memorable enough, Gomez also rode Whatsthescript to victory in the Grade II $400,000 Del Mar Mile on the turf in the race prior to the Pacific Classic.

Go Between, a 5-year-old son of Point Given owned by Florida-based Peter Vegso and trained by East Coast-based Bill Mott, has become a standout on synthetic surfaces, never finishing worse than second in six races. Runner-up in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup, Go Between rallied four wide into the stretch and overhauled Well Armed to win in a track-record time of 2:01.18 for 1 1/4 miles. Mast Track finished third in the field of 10. Go Between, the favorite at slightly less than 3-1 odds, paid $7.60.

Go Between earned an automatic berth in the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, another synthetic surface that has owner Vegso feeling good.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "If Curlin came, if Big Brown came, it would be terrific competition."

Mott didn't make the trip from Saratoga, but Go Between's win offered him a little vindication. The last horse he ran in the Pacific Classic, Cigar, was upset in 1995 while seeking his 17th consecutive victory.

Four stakes run Sunday helped produce the third-largest handle in Del Mar history, with $23,436.063 wagered on the 11-race card.

It was a strange week at Del Mar, starting Monday when investigators for the California Horse Racing Board showed up at the barn of leading trainer John Sadler and asked to see his medical records.

Then, on Friday, jockey Matt Garcia was arrested in the paddock prior to the first race by sheriff's deputies at the request of Monrovia police. Garcia, 38, is in custody awaiting arraignment on a charge of criminal threats, according to a Monrovia police spokesman.

The focus returned to racing Sunday, and no one can doubt Sadler's training ability based on what he has accomplished with Dearest Trickski, a 4-year-old filly who won the Grade III $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap by a nose over 11-1 Tiz Elemental in a track-record time of 1:15.17 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Dearest Trickski, owned by Tom Mankiewicz, was claimed for $32,000 last year. She has won 11 of 16 starts and earned an automatic spot in the $1-million Breeders' Cup filly and mare sprint Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. She went off as the 2-1 second choice under Mike Smith and picked up her fourth stakes victory of 2008.

Another Sadler-trained horse, the Irish-bred Whatsthescript, won the Del Mar Mile by three quarters of a length over Bold Chieftain in 1:32.40.

Afterward, Sadler said he had his two winning horses tested Aug. 12 for anabolic steroids so there would be "no aspersions cast." He said the tests were negative. A ban on steroids in horses in California is set to begin Sept. 4, and Sadler's stable has been under scrutiny over the last week.

In the Grade II $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap, 8-1 longshot Lewis Michael, ridden by Rene Douglas and trained by Chicago-based Wayne Catalano, won by 2 3/4 lengths over Rebellion in a track-record time of 1:21.17 for seven furlongs.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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