07/27/2008 11:00PM

Stewards exonerate Gomez


DEL MAR, Calif. - Garrett Gomez, the nation's leading rider in purse earnings this year with more than $12 million, was exonerated Monday by Del Mar's stewards for his actions aboard Eissoai following Sunday's third race, in which Gomez hit the filly on the left side near her mouth about 100 yards after the finish.

Gomez met with Del Mar's stewards in their ground-floor office for 20 minutes a little less than two hours before Monday's first race. The decision - no fine, no suspension - was announced just after the first race.

Eissoai, an import from Brazil making her first start in this country for trainer Bobby Frankel, lugged in severely the entire race, a 1 1/16-mile second-level allowance on turf for fillies and mares. She twice put Gomez in peril during the stretch run when she lugged in across the heels of rivals, then was struck by Gomez while galloping out.

Gomez said he was afraid Eissoai was about to lug in anew on the gallop out, and he was out of strength from fighting her during the race.

"In no way was I trying to hurt her or be brutal," Gomez told stewards Scott Chaney, Tom Ward, and Randy Winick while watching videotapes of the race and the gallop out from various angles. "I was trying to say, 'Let's go this way.' I wanted to keep out of danger again. She would not guide.

"On the gallop out, I wanted to get outside and get away. I had no strength left. I couldn't do nothing else. I hit her right on the bit. I did not swing hard."

Chaney told Gomez that Del Mar had "gotten a lot of calls [regarding] the gallop out."

"They are comparing it to Jeremy Rose," Chaney said, referring to the jockey who was initially suspended for six months and then had the penalty reduced to three months for striking a horse on the eye in a race at Delaware Park on June 23.

"The problem is it comes on the heels of the Jeremy Rose situation," Ward said. "Everybody's a little sensitive."

"It doesn't look good, for starters," Chaney told Gomez. Chaney added, "We can obviously see she's unmanageable."

Ward said: "She was lugging in as bad as any I've ever seen."

"You were a passenger in this race, weren't you?" Ward said to Gomez.

Chaney said Dr. Timothy Conner, the official veterinarian at Del Mar, looked at Eissoai after the race and found "no damage."

Gomez said he "reached up and tapped her."

"I had no control over her," Gomez said. "I did it once. It wasn't like I was trying to school her. I had no control over her. I did it to be sure I was safe. When she started to lean again, I whacked her one time."

Gomez said that when he took Eissoai to the outside in the stretch run of the race, "I thought I'd have a clear path, but she took me across heels into danger. I ended up four lanes over.

"She wouldn't go anywhere I needed to go. On the second turn, I tried to neck-rein her. That didn't work either. She was turned sideways. I was leaning halfway out of the saddle. I had two hands on one rein. I kept trying to pull her outside, and she took me back inside."

While watching tape of the horses coming down the stretch, Gomez remarked, "I have no control over her now."

Gomez at one point seemed to grow frustrated with the questions from the stewards.

"She could have got me really, really hurt, and I've got to defend myself," Gomez said.

Ward reassured him, saying "We're not necessarily finding fault. We're trying to get an explanation from you, a reason for your actions."

But Ward added when the hearing ended, "There could be a possible penalty."

"This occurred after the race was over," Ward said. "But we understand you were concerned for your personal safety."

Diamond Diva ruled out of Mabee

Diamond Diva, winner of the Grade 2 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park on July 5 and two other stakes earlier this year, will miss Sunday's $400,000 John Mabee Handicap because of a bruised foot, trainer Jim Cassidy said.

Cassidy said Diamond Diva is unlikely to start again until the fall, with the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Sept. 27 or the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 3 as possibilities.

Owned by Three Chimneys Racing, Diamond Diva, 4, has suffered through foot problems in recent months, Cassidy said.

"I've been nursing this," he said.

Diamond Diva won the American Beauty and Grade 3 Wilshire handicaps earlier this year and was second to Precious Kitten in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes on May 26.

Hollywood Park fined by stewards

Hollywood Park has been fined $5,000 by the stewards for failing to install a portion of the temporary rail on the backstretch of the turf course for the fourth race on July 5.

According to Chaney, a steward at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting and the current Del Mar meeting, there was a 24-foot gap in the temporary rail at a point on the backstretch where the six-furlong turf course chute meets the oval portion of the turf course during that race. The gap was fixed later that day, he said.

"Fortunately, there was no incident during the race," Chaney said.

Busy weekend for stewards

Over the weekend, Del Mar stewards Ward, Winick, and Chaney issued suspensions to jockeys Luis Contreras and Joe Talamo; fines against trainer Beau Greely and Bob Hess; and redistributed the purses of two races from the 2007 Del Mar meeting.

Contreras was given a suspension for three racing days from Sunday through Aug. 6 for failing to keep a straight course aboard Idle No More in the eighth race last Saturday. Idle No More finished ninth in a field of 10.

Talamo was suspended for three racing days from Sunday through Aug. 6 for causing interference aboard Hopehopehope in Saturday's San Clemente Handicap. Hopehopehope finished eighth but was ruled to have interfered with eventual race winner Storm Mesa on the backstretch.

Greely was fined $3,000 and had a 30-day suspension stayed as part of a stipulated agreement with the California Horse Racing Board after one of his starters at Santa Anita in January tested positive for the Class 2 medications meprobamate - a sedative - and the muscle relaxant hydroxy-carisoprodol.

The 30-day suspension was stayed as long as Greely does not have any violations of medications in Classes 1, 2, or 3 until July 26, 2009.

Hess was fined $500 for the late scratch of Steppin Out Rose from the third race last Thursday. According to the stewards, the horse was given clenbuterol after being entered. Clenbuterol, a bronchial dilator, cannot be administered after a horse is entered.

The stewards ordered that $2,575 in purses from two races here in July 2007 be redistributed after two starters trained by Cody Autrey tested positive for the prohibited medication guanabenz, which is used to treat people for hypertension. Guanabenz is a Class 2 medication.

Autrey was fined $12,500 and served a seven-day suspension earlier this month for the positive tests as part of a stipulated agreement with the racing board.

Reason behind improvement

Charlie's Moment, winner of Saturday's seventh race for 2-year-old maidens, may make a quick return in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 10, trainer Walther Solis said.

Charlie's Moment ($44.20) rallied from sixth to win the six-furlong race by a nose over Street Hero. He was timed in 1:10.45.

Saturday's maiden race was the first time in three career starts that Charlie's Moment raced as a gelding. Charlie's Moment finished second and fourth in maiden races at Hollywood Park, but raced as a ridgling. He was bothered by an undescended testicle at the time, Solis said.

"After we gelded him, he improved so much," Solis said.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen