08/23/2008 11:00PM

Go Between caps Gomez's big weekend

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Benoit Photo
Go Between and Garrett Gomez grab a neck victory over Well Armed in Sunday's Pacific Classic.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Now that’s the way a champion jockey should spend a weekend.

After winning the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday with Colonel John, Garrett Gomez flew across the nation early Sunday and rode Go Between to a victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

“This means a lot,” said Gomez, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey of 2007. “I feel I’ve won the two of the most prestigious races of the summertime.”

Go Between won the most prestigious race of his career in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, his second victory in a $1 million race this year. In January, he won the Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita. In between, he finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup.

Those performances made Go Between the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10 for the Pacific Classic. Gomez rode with confidence. Eighth early, behind Barcola’s pace of 23.40 and 47.36 seconds, Go Between raced off the rail on the backstretch and began moving closer to the front on the backstretch.

Fifth with a quarter-mile remaining, Go Between rallied wide to get within 1 1/2 lengths of leader Well Armed in early stretch and wore down Well Armed in the final furlong to win by a neck, finishing 1 1/4 miles in track-record time of 2:01.18.

“I didn’t want to make my move when I did,” Gomez said. “I expected the pace to be quicker than that. I didn’t have a whole lot of ground to make up. He was tracking really well for me.”

Well Armed, third in the $6 million Dubai World Cup earlier this year, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Mast Track, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup in June.

Since the Pacific Classic was part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, Go Between earned an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, subject to the payment of entry fees.

Go Between’s presence in the Pacific Classic marked his fourth trans-continental trip from trainer Bill Mott’s Eastern base this year for a major California race. The win gave Mott and owner Peter Vegso their first win in the Pacific Classic. Mott saddled Cigar to a famous loss in the 1996 running, when the popular horse was vying for his 17th consecutive win. Mott did not attend Sunday’s race, staying at his summer base in Saratoga.

Go Between has won 8 of 26 starts and $2,783,880 for Vegso, who bred the 5-year-old horse by Point Given. Vegso said that Go Between would not start again until the BC Classic.

Vegso credited Go Between’s success this year to an affection for California synthetic surfaces.

“He loves the West Coast,” Vegso said. “I was expecting to win the race, but you know how racing goes. Garrett did a wonderful job.”