Jockey Garrett Gomez will return from the sidelines at Santa Anita this weekend, beginning March 9 with a first-time starter in the third race and concluding March 10 with San Felipe Stakes entrant Tiz Point.
Gomez broke his left heel Jan. 8 at the Arcadia, Calif. oval when his mount Silver Summation flipped on a walkway from the paddock prior to the running of the Daytona Stakes. The 40-year-old rider underwent surgery to insert a plate and 10 screws in the heel area Jan. 12, and has been rehabbing for the past two months.
After checking Gomez's injury March 6, specialist Dr. Jae H. Chon gave him clearance to ride two starters March 9 and three March 10, including Tiz Point for Richard Mandella. Gomez will undergo another examination March 13 to check his foot's reaction to the rigors of racing.
"I've been in pretty intense therapy to get the flexibility back in my ankle and it seems to be working well," Gomez reported. "When I started getting back in the saddle about a week and a half ago, just sitting and standing to see what it felt like, I couldn't put weight on my foot. I've been working out on the Equicizer since then; I went to the jocks' room today and worked out there, and I'm moving right along."
Gomez said the main concern during his comeback will be tightness in the ligaments in the front of his ankle.
"Where he put the plate and screws in my heel isn't what hurts," he said. "The ligaments and tendons in the front left corner of my ankle are tight, and what I'm concerned about pain-wise is the impact and movement from the horse actually hitting the ground. On the Equicizer, I'm not in any pain."
The jockey targeted March 10 as his comeback date before promising 3-year-old contender Out of Bounds sustained a condylar fracture to the left front cannon bone during a five-furlong workout March 5 at Santa Anita. Gomez rode the son of Discreet Cat to victory in the Jan. 7 Sham Stakes.
"Now me and him are the same; we both have screws," Gomez said of the Eoin Harty trainee who came through March 8 surgery well at the Hollywood Park veterinary clinic.
"I committed myself to this date before he got hurt and other people made some commitments to me and I wanted to honor those. Also, this is Kentucky Derby prep season. You have to be riding in these races to find contenders; you've got to start putting your feelers out. We want to get back in action, and I think by riding, I'll be at 110% that much faster."