02/24/2011 7:54PM

Gomez named winner of Woolf Award


ARCADIA, Calif. - Garrett Gomez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation's outstanding jockey, was named the 2011 recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winner's circle announcement between races at Santa Anita on Thursday.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, the 1996 Woolf Award recipient, made the announcement. The award honors a jockey for career achievement and personal character, and is selected by members of the Jockeys' Guild.

"It means the world to be voted on by your peers, to know they voted for me," Gomez said in the winner's circle. "I'm really happy to be standing here."

Gomez, 39, won Eclipse Awards as outstanding rider in 2007 and 2008 and has led the nation's riders in annual money earnings four times, from 2006-09. The success came after he missed nearly two years of riding because of substance abuse problems from December 2002 to September 2004.

He rebounded from that personal setback to win six riding titles from 2005 to 2007 in Southern California. In recent season, Gomez has split time between California, Kentucky, and New York.

Gomez's 2010 campaign was highlighted by victories in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Whitney Handicap, and Stephen Foster Handicap on Blame and the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on Kinsale King. Blame was later named champion older male and was a finalist for Horse of the Year.

The Woolf award will be presented to Gomez in a ceremony this spring at Santa Anita. Gomez was a finalist along with Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Corey Lanerie, and Gallyn Mitchell.