12/17/2010 5:23PM

Gomez needs a big week to secure fifth straight earnings title

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Barbara D. Livingston
Garrett Gomez, aboard Blame after his victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic, currently lies third in the race for the national earnings title.

Time is running short for jockey Garrett Gomez’s quest to secure the national earnings title for the fifth consecutive year.

Through Thursday, Gomez’s mounts had earned $16,687,669 this year, leaving him in third place and $504,601 behind leader Ramon Dominguez. Gomez trailed runner-up John Velazquez by a mere $30,179.

Gomez’s only chance to catch Dominguez rests in the final week of the year, when Santa Anita has five days of racing from Dec. 26-27 and 29-31. He may know by the evening of Dec. 26 whether he can regain the title. Gomez is booked to ride Thiskyhasnolimit in the Malibu and Bogie in the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes and may gain mounts in the other two stakes that day. In addition, Santa Anita has a strong overnight purse schedule that could add to the total if Gomez’s mounts win.

“In the day-to-day races, you can eek out a little bit,” said Ron Anderson, Gomez’s agent. “I need to get lucky in the stakes.”

His opportunities at Hollywood Park this weekend were limited. Gomez had four mounts Saturday, but was only booked to ride two of the nine races Sunday.

Then again, the roster of rides is always subject to change. Last year at Santa Anita on New Year’s Eve, Gomez entered the day trailing leader Julien Leparoux by $26,994 but had only two scheduled mounts at Santa Anita. He rode one winner and one horse who was unplaced, leaving Gomez with purse earnings of $26,400 for the day.

But when Martin Pedroza took off his mount in the final race, citing illness, Gomez was the named as the replacement and won the race, ending the day, and the year, with a $10,606 advantage over Leparoux.