03/21/2008 12:00AM

Gomez's goal: Top 2007 success


ARCADIA, Calif. - The first stage of jockey Garrett Gomez's yearlong nationwide tour comes to end on April 3 when he moves from his winter base at Santa Anita to Keeneland for a month.

When he leaves California, Gomez is likely to be the leading rider at Santa Anita, a position he may hold only temporarily. Through Thursday, Gomez was second, trailing Rafael Bejarano 60-56, but he is likely to catch Bejarano since that rider is sidelined with a back injury until early April. The Santa Anita meeting ends on April 20.

So far, the season has gone to Gomez's plans, although the bar of expectations for him is quite high. He finished last season with the Eclipse Award as the outstanding jockey of 2007, had mounts that earned a career high of more than $23 million, and won 76 stakes, a single-season record for a jockey.

He must break last year's marks for earnings and stakes wins for it to be a successful season, Gomez said. It's a goal that will take him and his agent, Ron Anderson, from California to Kentucky this spring, to New York for the summer and fall, and then back at California for the last few months of the year - the same itinerary they followed last year.

"The goal is to go about like last year and beat it," Gomez said. "If there are two up to the challenge, it's us two."

Gomez rides at Santa Anita through Monday, and then will travel to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup program next Saturday. He returns to California for the March 30 program at Santa Anita and will ride here through April 3 before leaving for Keeneland.

Gomez has rides in the six seven-figure races in Dubai - Barcola in the Godolphin Mile, Esparamos in the Golden Shaheen, Great Hunter in the World Cup, Massive Drama in the UAE Derby, Notional in the Duty Free, and Spring House in the Sheema Classic.

"I'm excited with the challenge I have in front of me," he said.

With a close alliance with top trainer Todd Pletcher and mounts from many other national leading trainers, such as Bob Baffert, Bobby Frankel and Bill Mott, there is no shortage of top rides for Gomez.

For Mott, Gomez, 36, has two hopefuls for the Kentucky Derby - Court Vision and Majestic Warrior.

Court Vision, third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 24, is a candidate for the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct on April 5. Majestic Warrior, seventh in the Louisiana Derby on March 8, may start in the Florida Derby next Saturday or the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 12. If Majestic Warrior starts in the Florida Derby, it would present a conflict for Gomez, because it is run next Saturday when he will be in Dubai.

Gomez blamed himself for Majestic Warrior's loss in the Louisiana Derby.

"I was a little disappointed," he said. "I put him in a long run, and I was mad at myself for doing that. He gave me a thrill at the top of the stretch. I told Bill part of it was my fault."

It is unclear whether Gomez will ride Court Vision or Majestic Warrior on May 3 in search of his first Kentucky Derby.

"They're hard to separate right now," he said. "They were coming off layoffs. We've still got more preps to go. You always have a decision to make. Hopefully, we'll make the right decisions."

Izarra suffers cannon bone crack

Izarra, runner-up in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes here last October, has been sidelined due to a cracked cannon bone suffered in a workout on Thursday, trainer Ron McAnally said on Friday.

The injury occurred after Izarra completed a six-furlong workout in 1:14.60. She is scheduled to undergo surgery this weekend to have stabilizing screws placed in the injured leg, McAnally said.

"It could have been worse," McAnally said. "They'll put a couple of screws in there. They come back from injuries like this."

Owned by breeder Janis Whitham, Izarra has 1 victory in 5 starts. She was third in the Del Mar Debutante last September and fifth in the Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs here in January, her only start this year.

Turbo Call makes his mark

Turbo Call ($17.40) became the first 2-year-old male winner of 2008 in California in Thursday's first race. Winning trainer Walther Solis said he expects much more success from 2-year-olds in his stable in the coming weeks.

He said he has 25 2-year-olds in his 35-horse stable and that several are ready to run in the two-furlong races at this meeting. He named the unraced filly Got to be Real as a potential winner.

"All my babies are training super," he said.

Owned by breeder Terry Lovingier and ridden by Paul Atkinson, Turbo Call ran the two furlongs in 21.28 seconds, finishing a head in front of Cat Dreamer in the field of seven. Turbo Call is a gelding by Nineeleven.

Cat Dreamer lugged to the inside in deep stretch, forcing eventual third-place finisher Bring the Money to check. The stewards conducted an inquiry but did not change the order of finish.

Yankee Bravo legs up for derby

Yankee Bravo, third in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 8, worked five furlongs in 1:01 Friday, preparing for a start in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby April 5.

Yankee Bravo was ridden in the workout by Alex Solis, who was aboard the colt for wins in the Eddie Logan Stakes here in December and the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 27.

In the Louisiana Derby, Yankee Bravo, ridden by Solis, finished 3 1/2 lengths behind race winner Pyro, the top contender for the Kentucky Derby. Yankee Bravo is trained by Paddy Gallagher.

The Santa Anita Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, is California's main prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 3. Also expected to run in it are: Colonel John, winner of the Sham Stakes on March 1; El Gato Malo, runner-up in the Sham and the winner of the San Rafael Stakes on Jan. 12; and Georgie Boy, winner of the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 10 and the San Felipe Stakes on March 15.

Asked if Yankee Bravo can be competitive against those horses, Solis said, with a smile, "Maybe it's the other way around."