05/29/2009 11:00PM

King to receive Gomez Award


Robert King, who has worn several different hats through his racing career, has been named the 2009 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.

The Gomez Award is given to a jockey who is Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or has been a regular rider in the country for more than five years and has made significant contributions to the sport.

Presented annually at Woodbine on the day of the Woodbine Oaks, which will be run June 7 this year, the award is in memory of the talented and popular Gomez, who died after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Oaks.

King, 45, notched his first win as a jockey on Nov. 6, 1982. He rode in Ontario through 1994 and at Hastings in 1995 before moving into the trainer ranks in Vancouver in 1998.

He returned to ride in Ontario in 2005 but retired last year to take on his current position as secretary-manager of the Jockeys' Benefit Association of Canada.

King's riding accomplishments included back-to-back Sovereign Awards as Canada's top apprentice in 1983 and 1984 as well as riding titles at Woodbine, Greenwood, and most recently Fort Erie.

King compiled a record of 1,349 wins, 1,346 seconds, and 1,376 thirds for earnings of more than $19 million from 10,924 career mounts. He rode 37 stakes winners, including Don't Trust Me, who upset Canada's 1992 Horse of the Year, Benburb, in Woodbine's 1993 Fair Play Breeders' Cup.

As a trainer, King saddled 29 winners, including triple stakes winner Devastating, from 213 starts.

A life-size statue of Gomez overlooks Woodbine's walking ring. A replica is presented to each year's honoree.