11/23/2010 2:08PM

Gomez among five finalists for Woolf Award

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Barbara D. Livingston
The pinnacle of Garrett Gomez's 2010 was riding Blame to victory over Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Garrett Gomez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner who won three Breeders’ Cup races earlier this month, tops a list of five finalists for the 62nd George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita announced on Tuesday.

The other finalists are Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Corey Lanerie, and Gallyn Mitchell. The award is presented by Santa Anita, but voting is done by members of the Jockeys’ Guild. The winner will be announced in January, and presented in late March or early April.

The Woolf Award has been presented annually at Santa Anita since 1950. It recognizes riders adjudged to have been credits to the sport both on and off the racetrack. It was created after Woolf died on Jan. 13, 1946, in a riding accident at Santa Anita.

Gomez, 37, has been one of the elite riders in the game for most of the past decade, since a successful return from a lengthy, self-imposed hiatus because of drug and alcohol problems. With those issues in the rear-view mirror, he has led the nation in purse earnings for the past four years. He contributes both time and money to the Winner’s Foundation, which helps racetrack personnel dealing with substance-abuse issues. Gomez has won 12 Breeders’ Cup races, more than 3,400 races overall, and his mounts have earned more than $175 million.

Bravo, 39, known as “Jersey Joe,” has been a mainstay at Monmouth Park, where he has won 13 riding titles, and at the Meadowlands, where he won an additional nine titles. He has won more than 4,500 races, and his mounts have earned more than $121 million.

Castellano, 33, is best known for riding Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year, and Bernardini, the winner of the 2006 Preakness Stakes. He has won more than 2,650 races, and his mounts have earned more than $125 million. Castellano’s father-in-law is Terry Meyocks, the national director of the Jockeys’ Guild.

Lanerie, 36, comes from a long line of successful riders who first gained experience in the Cajun country of Louisiana. His father was a jockey, and his grandfather a trainer. Lanerie has won riding titles at Lone Star, Sam Houston, and Retama, the three major tracks in Texas. His most significant win came with Hooh Why in the Grade 1 Ashland in 2009. He has won nearly 3,000 races, and his mounts have earned nearly $65 million.

Mitchell, 47, is based in the Pacific Northwest, where he finished third in the jockeys’ standings at Emerald Downs this past season. He has been based at Emerald since the track opened in 1996, and is that track’s all-time winningest rider. He hosts at least one charity event a year. Mitchell has won more than 2,500 races, and his mounts have earned more than $19 million.