01/04/2009 12:00AM

Patient Gomez helps Jibboom find right path

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ARCADIA, Calif. - In a race where trips were paramount, Jibboom threaded her way between rivals under deft handling by jockey Garrett Gomez, and, by avoiding the severe traffic troubles that plagued some of her rivals, was able to capture the Grade 3, $100,000 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Jibboom ($5.40), the favorite, was able to shake free from between horses in the final yards and got up to beat Christiana's Heat by a half-length, with an extremely unlucky Lethal Heat another half-length back in third.

Jibboom was timed in 1:13.21 for 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

Of the other fancied runners in the race, La Tee was fourth, and Society Hostess seventh in the field of 11.

Jibboom was third along the rail, just behind pacesetting La Tee, as the field came around the turn and swung into the lane.

"I was in a really good spot," Gomez said. "She was traveling well. Crossing the dirt to the grass, I had to maneuver my way out. But I had to do it as slowly and easily as possible without bothering anyone. It took me about an eighth of a mile to get out."

Lethal Heat was right behind Jibboom on the turn and into the lane, but, though crying out for room, never got out until a few strides before the finish.

"I just needed one little hole, that's all," said Alex Solis, who rode Lethal Heat.

Jibboom, 5, has now won four times in nine starts for trainer Bobby Frankel. A daughter of Mizzen Mast, Jibboom was bred and is owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

Jibboom has raced six times on turf and has three wins and three seconds. After racing on dirt, synthetic, and grass, both short and long, Frankel said before the race he believed turf sprinting would suit Jibboom best.

Gomez agreed.

"She has tactical speed. We've been trying to find what suits her best," said Gomez, who won three races on Saturday's card.