04/22/2006 11:00PM

Gomez to ride first-call for Pletcher


Garrett Gomez will become the first-call rider in the coming weeks for trainer Todd Pletcher in New York, filling the vacuum created by the recent injury to John Velazquez, Pletcher's longstanding go-to guy.

Ron Anderson, Gomez's agent, said he already has taken more than 20 calls for Pletcher during the final three days of the Keeneland spring meet and the first week of the Churchill Downs spring meet. After the May 6 Kentucky Derby, Gomez will begin riding at Belmont Park, where Pletcher figures as a heavy favorite to be the leading trainer.

Velazquez is out indefinitely after having suffered a broken shoulder blade in a Thursday spill at Keeneland.

Gomez, who in recent years has become one of the leading riders on the Southern California circuit, will ride Bob and John for trainer Bob Baffert in the Derby.