01/07/2010 1:00AM

Q&A: Ron Anderson

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Benoit & Associates

Agent for jockey Garrett Gomez, who in 2009 won more purse money than any other North American-based rider for the fourth straight year.

Birthdate: Nov. 25, 1954, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Nickname: "Buckethead"

Family: divorced; son Doug, daughter Erica

Got into racing because. . .: "I was going to college with the anticipation of going to law school. I was always interested in the racetrack. I became friends at the track with Scotty McClellan and Craig O'Bryan, who had just started out as agents. Their dads, Chick and George, were agents. I wanted to take a break from school and ended up representing a rider named Bobby Howard, starting in 1973. My contact with Scotty's father, Chick, was great. Later on, he gave me Fernando Toro, which was my big break."

The way in which Gomez won the money title on Dec. 31, when Martin Pedroza took off a mount in the last race of the day at Santa Anita, has sparked controversy. What is your position on how that went down? "It's been done many, many times before. When I told Mike Smith I was taking some flack for manipulating that last horse, he started laughing and said, 'Do you know how many times people did that for Angel Cordero on the East Coast?' Look, we didn't fix a race. If the jockey, trainer, and owner of the horse are all fine with it, what's the harm? More than one rider offered to take off a mount. We had more than one option in more than one race. It was done out of respect, friendship, and admiration for Garrett, who had won the money title three years and possibly could have won it a fourth time. If he was an [expletive], nobody would have offered anything."

What other riders have you worked for? "After Bobby Howard, I had Raul Ramirez, then Paco Mena, and Marco Castaneda. My big break was Fernando Toro. Then I had Russell Baze, Gary Stevens, Chris Antley, Jerry Bailey, and Garrett Gomez."

Most satisfying aspect of job: "Being able to work for world-class riders for many, many years. Being able to participate in the big days. I've won 21 Breeders' Cup races, 13 Triple Crown races, four Dubai World Cups, and three Kentucky Derbies."

How many Eclipse Awards have riders won with you, and how many money titles? "Seven Eclipse Awards - two with Garrett, four with Jerry, and one with Gary. And eight money titles - four with Jerry and four now with Garrett."

Hardest part of job: "Keeping everyone happy. You're dealing with very successful, high-end trainers and owners. You can only ride one horse a race. You've got to be politically correct and nice to people."

Does your lawyer training come in handy? "Not really. I think I'm just more of a people person. I've seen agents tell people things at the worst time possible. I try to tell bad news when someone's in a good light, or something good has just happened. You try to structure negative stuff in a positive light."

Do you need to be a good handicapper? "Yes. Lots of agents have to ride for trainers who are regular customers. But if I can ride a better one, I'll try to do it. One time when I had Jerry Bailey, I took off a horse for Bill Mott, and he got really pissed at me. I called him with the news on the phone. He was silent for 10 seconds. Then he said, 'Do you realize that when you don't ride, none of them win?'"

Greatest moment of career: "Probably the first Derby win, with Thunder Gulch in 1995. Also the first Breeders' Cup, in 1984. Fernando won the Mile with Royal Heroine. It was a million-dollar race, one of very few at the time. That was a big thrill for me, especially since I was representing a guy who was so classy and respected. He really helped me go to the next level. If people think I'm good, it's because of my years with Fernando. He taught me a lot."

Best horse seen: "Spectacular Bid."

Childhood hero: "Bill Shoemaker. I was a kid when he was in his heyday. He went to the same high school I did, El Monte High School. When I went there, I had two teachers who had had him as a student, and they would tell stories about him. When I was a kid, I would run to get the Los Angeles Times every day to see how many Shoe had won. There were no replays in those days. The LA Times had full charts every day."

Favorite thing to do outside racing: "I like pro football and hockey, and I like to go to the movies."

Last movie seen: "'Sherlock Holmes.' I kind of saw it. I was sleeping through part of it."

Favorite movie of all time: "'The Godfather.' It was just an epic story, groundbreaking. And all those actors in it went on to be huge stars."

Favorite music: "I love the Eagles. My favorite album of theirs is 'Hotel California.'"

Future ambitions: "Just to stay working in a business that I love. Racing has taken me a lot of places all over the world - Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong, South America. I've traveled a lot because of the game. I'm just fortunate to be able to participate in this business."