Let the Games Begin: Gomez to Ride Flashback in SA Derby

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Garrett Gomez Garrett Gomez

The game of ‘musical jockeys’ has begun once again on the Triple Crown trail when it was announced Thursday that Garrett Gomez will replace Julien Leparoux aboard Flashback when the colt runs next in the G1 Santa Anita Derby.

Leparoux had been undefeated aboard the son of Tapit in his two starts prior to last weekend’s G2 San Felipe Stakes. In the race, Flashback suffered the first loss of his career after dueling with Goldencents through the early stages before being caught at the wire by outsider Hear the Ghost.

“It’s a tough decision, a very difficult decision,” trainer Bob Baffert told the Daily Racing Form regarding replacing Leparoux.

Read more in the Daily Racing Form

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  • Ida Lee

    Oh yeah…it’s ON!!

  • swiss305

    Baffert always blames the jockey. Could the loss last weekend have been because of his own instructions?

  • Don Reed

    “ ‘It’s a tough decision, a very difficult decision,’ trainer Bob Baffert told the Daily Racing Form regarding replacing Leparoux.”

    No, it was not. It was the easy way out.

    A grave mistake. You’d think Baffert, today, this week, is a first-time trainer who panicked & listening to the worse voice available in the aftermath of Flashback finishing 2nd, then plunged into the void with this ill-advised decision.

    Watch Leparoux on Kentucky Derby day. And bet on him, wholeheartedly. I will. And don’t rule out his re-uniting with Baffert on this day in the winner’s circle.

    As for Baffert: In the late 80s-late 90s, I kept an eye on the old-timers at Belmont Park.

    They were out to sea. Their orientation was the late 60s-mid 80s. Their picks, then, paid good – sometimes, great – dividends.

    Now, things weren’t paying off. Far from it. Bewildered, their faces. An indelible memory.

    The cycle continues with Baffert, who should know better, because he was a young man then, with an eagle eye, discerning what worked; what did not.

    His memory has (tragically) deserted him, just prior to the time that he in turn has deserted Leparoux.

    • KayDee

      Don’t you think you’re being a bit overly dramatic. BB didn’t unseat the Pope.. he just changed riders.

      • Don Reed

        I’m overly dramatic, or I’m not.

        “Bits” are for the timid, spineless commentators on ESPN who throw the phrase, “a
        little bit” into every other one of their convoluted statements.

        Sometimes even more frequently than that.

    • Lost In The Fog

      Don, you certainly have a flare for the melodramatic. A grave mistake? How so? Leparoux rode Flashback like a rookie in the San Felipe and Baffert is consistently unforgiving when he gets a poor ride on a top-level horse. Nothing new here, he just moves on and tries another jockey – next man up. All of the members of the jockey colony in SoCal know exactly what to expect from Baffert in situations like this. I doubt Julien is surprised or feels “deserted” to use your terminology.

      Regardless, Gomez is one of the best riders of the last decade and an upgrade from Julien. It’s worth a try though it remains to be seen if it changes the results.

      • Don Reed

        Glad you spoke up for Gomez. I have nothing against the selection TO him; I just think that Lep should have been retained.

        My point is that Baffert is confusing rational jockey selection with speed-dating.

        “All of the members of the jockey colony in SoCal know exactly what to expect from Baffert in situations like this.”

        I agree. Let’s go further with this.

        Since 2002, Baffert’s struck out ten consecutive times on the first Saturday in May.

        At this point, if I were a jockey & if I had lost a Baffert Derby mount in March, I’d be tempted to consider the event a stroke of good fortune.

        At any rate, this year, it’s Baffert’s Derby to lose. He’s got a very good shot at it; so much so, I suspect not even he himself can get in his own way on the path to the
        winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.

        We’ll see.

        • Knowitall

          He finished second in 09 Derby and last year, won Preakness in 10 with the horse that started from the Bob Hole in Derby, so I kinda doubt any jock wants to be taken off a Baffert horse. JL rode a bad race, but Bob’s main critique of jocks (fair or not) is whether they can handle the pressure of riding his 3-5 stud prospects and the scrutiny of riding for him. Gogo can do.

          • Don Reed

            Anyone who regards the Preakness as a Triple Crown race is the type of fellow who, when he gets engaged, presents his fiancée with a zirconium diamond ring.

          • Glimmerglass

            What an asinine remark. Don, you lost any respect right there.

        • Lost In The Fog

          “My point is that Baffert is confusing rational jockey selection with speed-dating.”

          That’s a great line Don! Had me laughing for five minutes…

          • Don Reed

            Thank you.

    • Glimmerglass

      And Don you don’t think the owners (West) didn’t have a huge input on the decision, too? Published remarks made it clear Gary wasn’t happy with the ride. Bob just did their bidding.

      Look jocks get taken odd top tiered horses after an unexpected loss. Rosie is an excellent jock but she too was dropped like a bad habit after the BC JV Fillies loss with Kauai Katie. That decision was made somewhere between the owners and Pletcher. Regardless of the prior wins its been JV appointed for the rides since.

      Jock changes happen in this business – good or bad – and isn’t a just a BB thing regardless of your clain.

      • Don Reed

        Glim: If “BB” means Best Bet, spell it out. Don’t lose your audience.

        Point: Owner’s opinions are, collectively, box office poison. The beneficiaries of their meddling thank them, quite often, years after the event.

        Only someone who doesn’t think can type the words, “you don’t think.”

        You must be watching – and listening to the Australian racing:

        “Look jocks…”
        Find your own voice. It’s much more convincing.

  • Harry

    Hey Bob when you work a horse 1:11 what do you expect??? Speed speed and more speed. Julien did nothing wrong and as good as Gomez is the result will be the same. This horse cannot come from off pace and as usual he needs a wire to wire victory..

    • Olebobbowers

      Harry, you are 100% correct. Baffart gets horses too wound up and speed crazy, but he hasn’t a clue that is what he is creating. Owners tend to overlook his stupid errors for some unknown reason, as he ruins horse after horse after horse…jus sayin…

  • Big Red

    Leparoux is one of the most over rated jockeys and gave Flashback a rookie ride.

    Top 5 jocks: Gomez, Velasquez, Dominguez, Rosario, and Bejarano.

    Yes, he’s good at Keeneland on the turf on 3-5 shots but there are a bunch of riders I would use first.

    Note to Don Reed: “Watch Leparoux on Kentucky Derby day. And bet on him, wholeheartedly” – how soon we forget last years Derby fiasco ride on Union Rags????

    • Don Reed

      If you were dumb enough to bet on Union Rags, don’t blame anyone other than yourself.

  • Kris

    I doubt Baffert lost one minute of sleep over the decision, especially since he rarely uses JL on his horses.

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