10/22/2006 11:00PM

Gomez returns West to a busy day


ARCADIA, Calif. - Garrett Gomez, a leading rider in California in 2005 who has ridden primarily in New York since April, returns to California on Wednesday's card at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Gomez said earlier this month that he plans to ride in California through the winter, but may return to the East Coast next spring.

On Wednesday, Gomez has four mounts, including one in each of the two co-features - an allowance race over a mile and an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs. Wednesday's card starts the final week of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, which ends on Sunday. The Hollywood Park fall meeting begins on Nov. 1.

Gomez has made sporadic appearances in California since he left to ride mainly for trainer Todd Pletcher in the spring. He won the American Oaks and the Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the outstanding 3-year-old filly Wait a While in California

On Wednesday, he has an excellent chance for a win. In the seventh race, Gomez rides Fletchers Cove. Trained by Bob Baffert, Fletchers Cove has won 2 of 12 starts. She was second in an optional claimer here on Sept. 29 after leading in midstretch.

Fletchers Cove has 10 rivals in the optional claimer, including Is It a Trick, Kalookan Lessie, Never Ever, and Off the Richter.

Is It a Trick has worked quickly at Hollywood Park in recent weeks. Kalookan Lessie, 3, was second in the Pio Pico Stakes for California-bred sprinters at Fairplex Park on Sept. 15.

Never Ever has won 3 of her last 4 starts. Off the Richter was third in the E.B. Johnston Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Fairplex Park on Sept. 10. Earlier in her career, she won two sprints.

In a $47,000 allowance race over a mile, Gomez rides Lucky for Me, a stakes winner in Argentina who is making her U.S. debut. Trained by Jason Orman, Lucky for Me has won 4 of 5 starts, all in sprints on dirt or turf. Wednesday's race is the longest of her career.

Lucky for Me must beat River Savage. Trained by A.C. Avila, River Savage won an optional claimer over a mile on Oct. 12, staying near the pace throughout and winning by 3 3/4 lengths. It was the Brazilian-bred filly's second win in seven starts in this country.

The race marks the U.S. debut of Vanguarda, a 4-year-old filly who won the 2005 Argentine 1000 Guineas.