Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gomez to ride Pioneerof the Nile in Derby


Garrett Gomez will ride Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Pioneerof the Nile in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Gomez’s jockey agent, Ron Anderson, confirmed on Sunday that the 2007 and ’08 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey will ride Pioneerof the Nile rather than highly regarded Florida Derby Presented by Blackberry (G1) runner-up Dunkirk in the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

Anderson and Gomez discussed their options on Sunday, and Anderson said the decision was an agonizing one because both colts are very talented.

Pioneerof the Nile has reeled off four straight graded stakes wins for trainer Bob Baffert and owner-breeder Zayat Stables. The Empire Maker colt arrived at Churchill Downs on Thursday.

Dunkirk has won two of three career starts for owners Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Unbridled’s Song colt’s only defeat was a runner-up finish to leading Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road in the Florida Derby.

Gomez will try to secure his first career win in the Kentucky Derby. His best previous result in the classic race was a seventh-place finish aboard Southern Rhythm in 1994.

Edgar Prado will pick up the mount on Dunkirk, Prado’s jockey agent Bob Frieze said on Sunday. Prado won the 2006 Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro and went on to win the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey.

Prado guided Dunkirk to a 5 3/4-length win in his career debut on January 24 at Gulfstream, but Frieze said Prado was unavailable for the Florida Derby because of a prior commitment to ride for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. in the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1).

“We liked him all along, we just had some scheduling conflicts with the Dubai trip and our commitment with Dutrow,” Frieze said. “He’s always been our top choice; we always thought he was a talented horse. We’re very excited because we’ve always really liked the colt.”

To view a video of Pioneerof the Nile's victory in the Santa Anita Derby, click here..