07/28/2013 6:02PM

Del Mar: Gomez to meet with track stewards again Friday

Barbara D. Livingston
Garrett Gomez has not ridden since July 14.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Garrett Gomez, who has not ridden since July 14 after saying he underwent treatment for alcoholism earlier this month, is scheduled to meet with Del Mar stewards on Friday for the second time in a week before he will be permitted to resume riding, steward Tom Ward said.

While Gomez said he would like to make an immediate return to riding, he is not likely to do so until Aug. 7 at the earliest. By Friday’s meeting, entries will have been taken at Del Mar for the racing week that concludes on Sunday. Entries for the Aug. 7 program will be taken on Saturday.

Ward said that Gomez’s reinstatement depends on Friday’s meeting “and if everything falls into place.” The meeting originally was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed to Friday.

On Sunday morning, Gomez met with stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Ward for more than an hour to discuss the circumstances of his absence from riding since July 14. Gomez told the stewards that he underwent counseling after consuming alcohol July 16, a relapse of an issue that plagued his career in the early 2000s.

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At Friday’s meeting, Gomez will be expected to provide documentation regarding his recent in-house treatment for alcoholism at a facility in Cerritos, Calif., provide documentation regarding recent prescriptions from doctors, and show proof that he has started counseling with the Winners Foundation, which assists people in Southern California horse racing with substance-abuse problems, Ward said.

“We’ve asked him for information that we can look at,” Ward said. He said the stewards are seeking “assurance that the medicines won’t interfere with [Gomez’s] work.”

Gomez said Sunday that he has been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication and medication for detoxification.

It was unclear Sunday what other terms Gomez must meet to return to riding, such as an agreement for random drug and alcohol testing. Gomez said that stewards asked him to submit to urine and Breathalyzer tests Sunday.

“They want to me jump through some hoops,” Gomez said. “I was truthful. I’m an alcoholic. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t ride drunk. I didn’t get arrested. I went and got help. I have a past, but I didn’t break any rules. I’m getting penalized for it, and I’m sad about it. I’ll do whatever they want.”

Gomez expressed frustration that his return to riding could be delayed until the second week of August, saying he has support from trainers who could provide immediate mounts.

“I missed the first part of the meeting, and I’m paying for messing that up,” he said. “I think a lot of guys are waiting for me.”

The Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding rider in 2007-08, Gomez, 41, took off his mounts at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 13, citing the need 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 Sunday, Gomez said he is separated from his wife, Pam, and that divorce proceedings are under way. The couple has two children.

“It’s time to move on,” he said of his marriage.

Gomez returned to ride for a four-day span at Hollywood Park from July 11-14 but took off his mounts 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.

He said Sunday that he had begun drinking earlier in the summer.

“I had a few drinks,” he said of his behavior on July 16. “I’m an alcoholic. I had started drinking a bit before that. I knew I needed to get help, and I did.”