08/11/2013 1:43PM

Del Mar: Gomez trying to rebuild his business

Benoit & Associates
Dice Flavor (No. 8) and jockey Garrett Gomez win the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap on Saturday, Gomez's first day riding since July 14.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – A day after he made a triumphant return to riding following a four-week break to undergo counseling for alcoholism, jockey Garrett Gomez had a typical start to his morning Sunday.

Gone were meetings with psychiatrists and track stewards, replaced by a busy morning of working horses in preparation for races later this month. Gomez worked horses for Peter Miller and later for Paddy Gallagher.

Gomez, 41, said he was delighted to be back in action, having celebrated his return Saturday with a brilliant ride to win the $151,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds on turf aboard the Gallagher-trained Dice Flavor.

“You want to make your presence known,” he said. “That’s the way to do it. I was happy.”

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Gomez had three mounts Saturday, his first day of riding since July 14, the final day of the Betfair Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. They were his first rides since he took off his mounts from July 17-20 following a relapse of alcoholism that derailed his career in the early 2000s.

Gomez underwent counseling in late July and early August and was cleared by a doctor to return to riding for Saturday’s races. He had met with track stewards July 28 and Aug. 2 to discuss his return.

The approval process took longer than he expected, he said last week. As for his treatment, Gomez said  he plans to continue to attend counseling sessions.

The Del Mar meeting runs through Sept. 4, and Gomez will spend the next few weeks rebuilding business lost earlier this summer. Prior to his comeback Saturday, he had ridden only four days since June 9, citing family issues as the reason for a lengthy absence in June.

Rebuilding business will take time. Gomez has a quiet day Wednesday. He rides two of the eight races – the sixth on the $25,000 claimer Somewhere With You and the eighth on the maiden claimer Party Bus.

Gallagher said Sunday that Dice Flavor is likely to run in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf Sept. 1. In the La Jolla, Dice Flavor closed from eighth in a field of nine to win by a half-length over Den’s Legacy. The La Jolla was Dice Flavor’s first stakes win since the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February.

By Scat Daddy, Dice Flavor races for Oda Racing Stable and U.S. Equine and has won 3 of 9 starts and $274,500.