08/02/2013 6:31PM

Del Mar: Gomez gets conditional permission to resume riding

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Barbara D. Livingston
Garrett Gomez had a 90-minute meeting with stewards on Friday.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Jockey Garrett Gomez, who has not ridden since July 14 after undergoing recent treatment for alcoholism, was given conditional approval to resume riding at Del Mar on Wednesday, pending the results of a urine test this weekend, track stewards said on Friday.

Gomez participated in a 90-minute hearing with stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward on Friday, to discuss his absence on the opening days of the current meeting, which began on July 17.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

At Friday’s formal hearing, and at an informal hearing on July 28, Gomez told track stewards that he sought treatment for alcoholism and had been given a prescription for antidepressants to aid his recovery. Gomez said he was in the process of reducing the dosage of antidepressants.

If the urine test taken on Friday shows that the level of antidepressants has reached a “baseline level” acceptable for athletic activity, the stewards said that Gomez could resume riding on Wednesday. Entries for Wednesday’s program will be taken on Saturday.

If the urine test has reached acceptable levels, Gomez can begin exercising horses on Tuesday, according to racing board investigators. Another urine test will be conducted Sunday to see if the level of medication has dropped through the weekend, according to testimony at Friday’s hearing.

Should the tests show higher-than-expected levels of the antidepressants, Gomez’s comeback could be delayed, the stewards said.

The Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding rider in 2007 and 2008, Gomez, 41, took off his mounts at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 13, citing the needs to spend time with his family. He did not ride the remainder of June, saying at the time that he was working on issues involving his marriage.

On July 28, Gomez said that he is separated from his wife, Pam, and that divorce proceedings are under way.

Gomez returned to ride for a four-day span at Hollywood Park from July 11-14, but took his mounts on July 17. He was named to ride July 18-20, but was removed from his mounts on those days by track stewards because of his absences. Gomez has not ridden since.

Gomez said on July 28 that he had begun drinking earlier in the summer.

The stewards announced at Friday’s hearing that Gomez would be fined $1,000 for missing his mounts at the start of the meeting, and that he will be required to check in on a daily basis with California Horse Racing Board investigators. In addition, he will be asked to submit to random drug testing and must enter into a counseling agreement with the Winner’s Foundation, which aids people in horse racing in Southern California with substance abuse issues.

Gomez told the stewards on Friday that in the last week he had attended three counseling sessions.

At Friday’s hearing, Bob Fletcher of the Winner’s Foundation said that Gomez will begin undergoing treatment with psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, of Newport Beach, Calif., for treatment of substance abuse issues, mental health, and nutrition.

The stewards have asked for written documentation from Amen that Gomez is fit to resume riding.

After the meeting, Gomez said he was anxious to return, but said he “a little frustrated” at some of the requirements placed on him by stewards, notably the need to check with investigators on a daily basis.

“I felt like it was more than I thought I’d have to go through,” he said. “I’ve got to play by the rules they want to me to play by.”