01/25/2012 3:23PM

Santa Anita: Gomez still on target for March return

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Coady Photography/Keeneland
Jockey Garrett Gomez hopes to resume racing in March.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Garrett Gomez had a cast removed from his left ankle Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after fracturing a heel in an accident near the paddock at Santa Anita on Jan. 8.

Gomez, 40, began physical therapy Wednesday and is hoping to make a comeback in March as previously scheduled. He underwent surgery earlier this month to have 10 screws and a plate inserted in the heel to stabilize the injury.

“It looks really good, according to the doctor,” said Pam Gomez, the jockey’s wife. She said Gomez could return in early March “in a best-case scenario.”

The injury came a day after Gomez won the Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds on Out of Bounds. There is a possibility that Gomez could ride Out of Bounds in the colt’s next scheduled start, the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 10.

Two of Gomez’s recent stakes mounts will start Saturday – Sugarinthemorning in the $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares over seven furlongs and Charm the Maker in the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles.

Both fillies are trained by Ron McAnally and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Through Sunday, Bejarano was second in the jockey standings with 19 wins, three less than leader Joel Rosario.

Sugarinthemorning was second to Teddy’s Promise in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31 and faces that filly in the Santa Monica. The field also includes Rumor, who won the Kalookan Queen Handicap under Gomez on Jan. 1. Mike Smith rides Rumor on Saturday.

McAnally said that owner Stephen Weissman chose the Santa Monica for Sugarinthemorning over the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for California-bred fillies on turf the same day.

Sugarinthemorning has won 5 of 12 starts and $310,334, including two minor stakes last year. She has yet to win a graded stakes.

“We have to improve a little bit more,” McAnally said of Sugarinthemorning’s chances. “She tries every time.”

Charm the Maker was second to Santa Ysabel entrant Killer Graces in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 10. McAnally said that a five-furlong workout in a quick 59.20 seconds on Dec. 7 may have hurt Charm the Maker’s chances in the Starlet when she ran near the front throughout and was beaten a half-length.

“She went too fast,” McAnally said of the workout. “That’s why Gomez wasn’t able to rate her. She was doing too much, too soon.”

Trio of stakes part of two-track pick six

The three Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita on Saturday are the fourth through sixth races on a 10-race card that begins at noon.

In the past, the Sunshine Millions featured stakes at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita for California-breds and Florida-breds. This year, the statebreds are racing in their respective states. The six races in the series are being combined into a $1 pick six between the two tracks.

There will not be a conventional pick six at Santa Anita on Saturday. In the event there are no winning tickets in Friday’s pick six, the carryover will be put toward Sunday’s pick six.

The Valentine Dancer is the third of the three Sunshine Millions races and drew the largest field, 10 fillies and mares. Unzip Me, winner of nine stakes, will make her first start at a mile in the Valentine Dancer.

The earlier races are the Sensational Star Stakes on the hillside turf course and the Crystal Water Stakes for older horses over 1 1/16 miles on the main track.