01/03/2012 1:04PM

Santa Anita: Gomez having happy year so far

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Benoit & Associates
Garrett Gomez comes back a winner with Mizdirection after the Monrovia.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The newest member of the 40-something club in the Santa Anita jockey’s room was the man to beat on New Year’s weekend.

Garrett Gomez turned 40 on Sunday and promptly swept the three stakes on Sunday and Monday. He won the Kalookan Queen Handicap on Rumor and the Robert Frankel Stakes on Bauble Queen on Sunday and Monday’s Monrovia Stakes on Mizdirection.

Two days into the season, Gomez led the nation’s riders with earnings of $201,600.

“That’s a great way to start the year,” he said.

Gomez’s success may continue weekend. Saturday, he is expected to have mounts in the day’s two major stakes – Out of Bounds in the $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile and Java Man in the $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes for older horses.

Monday at Hollywood Park, Gomez worked Out of Bounds for the first time, through five furlongs in 1:00.60 for trainer Eoin Harty. Owned by Darley Stable, Out of Bounds will make his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, and first start beyond seven furlongs. He beat maidens at Hollywood Park last month.

“He’s a good-looking colt,” Gomez said. “He’s about 17 hands. I think the two turns will help him.”

The Sham Stakes is led by Secret Circle, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. Trained by Bob Baffert, Secret Circle is unbeaten in three starts but has never raced beyond six furlongs.

Other candidates for the first stakes of the year for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita are Baby Blake, Handsome Mike, Hierro, Longview Drive, Senor Rain and possibly Hodge, who was third in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes in November.

After working Out of Bounds, Gomez drove from Hollywood Park back to Santa Anita on Monday morning – no traffic on a holiday – to work Java Man six furlongs in 1:12.20, the fastest of seven works at the distance.

Java Man is trained by John Sadler for Marsha Naify, and has won 2 of 7 starts. A 6-year-old gelding, Java Man has yet to start in a stakes. Tuesday, Sadler categorized Java Man as a probable for the San Pasqual, with a decision to be made by Wednesday’s entry day.

The San Pasqual field features Tres Borrachos, who was second in the Native Diver Handicap last month, against Skipshot, Thiskyhasnolimit, Uh On Bango, and Utopian.

◗ Jockey Joe Steiner has hired Jim Pegram as agent. Pegram will continue to work with Martin Garcia, who took off his final two mounts on Sunday and all of Monday because of illness. Through Monday, Steiner had one win from two mounts at this meeting.