12/27/2007 1:00AM

Frank Gomez dies at 78

EmailTrainer Frank Gomez, who developed Eclipse Award winners Princess Rooney, Smile, and Cherokee Run from his home base at Calder Race Course, died Sunday following a long illness. He was 78 years old.

Gomez was born in Limerick, Ireland, one of six brothers who followed in the footsteps of their grandfather and father to become horse trainers. Gomez emigrated to the U.S. in 1958, where he worked as an exercise rider until beginning his training career in 1967. Gomez came to Calder when the track opened in 1971 and remained there until his retirement last month.

Gomez won 1,423 races during his training career with purses in excess of $24 million. He won more than 100 stakes races and is the only trainer to have swept Calder's Florida Stallion Stakes series twice, with Smile in 1984 and Naked Greed in 1991. He came within a nose of turning the trick for the third time with In Summation in 2005. He was inducted into the Calder Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1995.

Gomez is survived by two daughters, Beth Gomez and Lisa Barnet, and a son, Christopher Gomez.

Calling hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Fred Hunter Funeral Home, 6301 Taft St., Hollywood, Fla., with funeral services scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the same location.

The family said donations can be made in the name of Gomez's deceased son to the Peter Gomez Memorial at the National Speleological Society, 2813 Cave Ave., Huntsville, AL 35810.