08/10/2013 9:42PM

Del Mar: Gomez makes triumphant return aboard Dice Flavor in La Jolla Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Dive Flavor (No. 8) and Garrett Gomez rally to win Saturday's Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap by a half-length.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Go Go is back.

Jockey Garrett Gomez won the $151,000 La Jolla Handicap aboard Dice Flavor at Del Mar on Saturday, making a triumphant return to racing after undergoing treatment for alcoholism in late July.

Dice Flavor was Gomez’s second mount Saturday. He had not ridden since the closing day of the spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14. Gomez was booked to ride July 17, Del Mar’s opening day, but took off his mounts that week while undergoing counseling.

Dice Flavor was Gomez’s first winner since June 6 and his first stakes winner since Clubhouse Ride won the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 2.

In the Grade 2 La Jolla, Dice Flavor ($19.80) was eighth with a furlong remaining and closed with a wide rally to finish a half-length in front of 8-1 Den’s Legacy, who led by 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch.

Gomez, 41, punctuated the victory by emphatically pumping his right arm in the air after Dice Flavor hit the wire.

“You don’t think about coming back in a graded stakes,” he said. “You just want to end up in the winner’s circle.”

Dice Flavor ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:39.82. He was so far back that he did not look like a contender until the final sixteenth.

Through the first half-mile, Gomez had Dice Flavor well off a quick pace of 22.99 and 45.91 seconds set by Rosengold. Going into the turn, Gomez said he debated whether to swing wide, but he opted to stay in behind runners, hoping that space would develop near the stretch.

“I waited to move out at the five-sixteenths,” he said. “I thought if I went earlier, I’d be eight wide.”

Dice Flavor trailed by more than 4 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining and took the lead in the final strides.

“I thought he’d give me a turn of foot, and he did,” Gomez said.

Pure Loyalty finished third. The first three finishers each were 8-1 in a competitive race. Dry Summer finished fourth, followed by Si Sage, Uno Dos Adios, Freakin Rocket, Greeley Awesome, and Rosengold. Freakin Rocket was the 5-2 favorite. He was second with a furlong remaining but faded late, finishing three lengths behind the winner.

Dice Flavor is a 3-year-old colt by Scat Daddy. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, Dice Flavor races for Oda Racing Stable and U.S. Equine.

Dice Flavor won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February, but he was eighth in the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on March 30. Dice Flavor had a disappointing Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap on June 2 and third of four in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on July 4.

A winner of 3 of 9 starts and $274,500, Dice Flavor gave a career-best performance in the La Jolla, a win that is likely to lead to a start in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 1.

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EddySealy More than 1 year ago
Welcome back Go Go..Great ride! I wouldn't say he is the best big race rider in the game, I think Johnny V is but he is definitely in the top 5.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Mike Smith is probably the best big money jock at the present time.
Kyle Stasierowski More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Anderson, I'm glad for Garrett "Go-Go" Gomez to come back winning a graded stakes. I say onward and upward. I also say that if he stays right then Richard Mandella should leave him on Beholder in the Torrey Pines Stakes on September 1. Sincerely, Kyle Stasierowski 28-old loyal TVG viewer, HRTV Live Feed viewer, DRF FaceBook friend and Twitter follower from Alden, New York
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
Yes! Agreed....
Anil More than 1 year ago
Reminded me of Garrett winning the Pacific Classic with Borrego. Congrats!!!!!
Scott More than 1 year ago
Great closing kick. Nice to see Gomez back. They only gave him an 88 Beyer for running sub 1:40. Did they think that was for a mile. Would they have had to break the world record to get anywhere near 100, let alone a 90.
Bob More than 1 year ago
He's still the best big race rider in the game today!
Vince More than 1 year ago
super fast pace benefits a closer.......
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
If you send a North American horse to Dubai. You can't really expect much until late summer. This horse was a great bet yesterday. Wish I had 'um
LauraB More than 1 year ago
Welcome back Garrett! Great race, stay well.
KEVIN D More than 1 year ago
in the 5th race at Del Mar the 1 horse came out not once but 3 times on the 5 horse and the stewards did not see any cause for a disqualification. And they wonder why horseracing is a dying sport.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I had the winner and the place horse to cap off my pick 5. I would have rather had the 5 get up via DQ, but thats a tough call. They've made some questionable calls, but I'm not sure what you do there?
Vince More than 1 year ago
you lost I am guessing
Vince More than 1 year ago
1) After watching the replay I think it is clear that the 2nd place finisher would have finished second with or without the minor infraction and California stewards have consistently NOT taken horses down if it did not effect the outcome 2) Who the heck is they?