01/05/2017 2:46PM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Kevin Gomez


Maryland horsemen steadily named Kevin Gomez on their horses throughout 2016, and his accomplishments have made him a finalist for the Eclipse Award as leading apprentice rider.

Gomez is the son of jockey Oscar Gomez, who rode in Guatemala before moving to the United States. Oscar Gomez began riding at the New York Racing Association tracks in 2000, and since 2009 has been a mainstay at Finger Lakes.

Kevin Gomez, 22, emigrated from Guatemala in 2007 to be near his father.

“When I was in Guatemala we lived near a racetrack, and my father rode at small tracks there before he came to the United States,” Gomez said. “I have been around horses and racetracks as long as I remember, my whole life.”

Gomez rode his first race Aug. 22, 2015, at Finger Lakes and had a winner three days later. He won 12 races at Finger Lakes before moving his tack to Aqueduct that November.

Gomez had difficulty getting competitive mounts in New York and headed farther south to Maryland in late December 2015.

As an apprentice in 2016 – he became a journeyman Oct. 23 – Gomez won 67 races from 540 mounts, a 12 percent win average, and his mounts earned $1.46 million. During his entire apprenticeship, Gomez rode 79 winners and had mount earnings of $1.69 million.

“I think my skills have improved a lot,” Gomez said. “I see things differently now and I make fewer mistakes. Alex Cintron, who sits near me, will point things out after my races so I improve and don’t make the same mistakes.”

Gomez has successfully made the often difficult jump from apprentice to journeyman. He won two races at Laurel Park on his first day without a weight allowance, and through Jan. 5 had ridden 19 winners from 152 mounts.

“My business has kept going since I finished as an apprentice,” Gomez said. “Things are good.”

Gomez is represented by agent Frank Douglas, who rode more than 1,200 winners in a career that lasted from 1981-2003.