Shot of a Lifetime opens up a huge lead, but jockey Alejandro Gomez apparently forgets there is another lap to go
The race was called “Remembering Pat Smullen Today At Golden Gate Fields,” but Sunday’s eighth race at the Northern California track is one that veteran jockey Alejandro Gomez would surely like to forget.
Named in honor of the nine-time champion Irish jockey who died last week at the age of 43 from pancreatic cancer, the starter allowance was scheduled at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, the same distance, as track announcer Matt Dinerman pointed out, as the Irish Derby that Smullen had won twice – most recently with Dermot Weld-trained Harzand in 2016.
The starting gate for this starter allowance contest was positioned nearly five furlongs from the finish line on the backstretch, meaning the nine runners would go 1 1/2 times around the about seven-furlong turf course.
Gomez was aboard Shot of a Lifetime, the second choice in the wagering at 3-1 odds for trainer Ellen Jackson. The California-bred gelding broke alertly from the No. 4 post position and quickly went to the front, opening up five lengths after a quarter mile in :24.12 and he was 15 lengths in front after a half in :47.40. Gomez could be seen peeking back several times, no doubt wondering where the competition was.
But then, shortly after crossing the finish line well in front of his closest pursuer, Gomez raised up in the saddle, allowing Shot of a Lifetime to gallop out toward the outside rail, his job seemingly done.
And then came the rest of the field, as Dinerman said: “And Shot of a Lifetime, I’m not sure if the rider understands, we’ve got another lap to go here my friend…and Shot of a Lifetime being taken out of the race. Shot of a Lifetime eased up now.”
Colour Me Happy, the 11-10 betting favorite, would go on to win by four lengths under William Antongeorgi III.
Gomez, a Northern California mainstay, began riding in 2006 and has registered 642 career wins from 4,677 starts. Shot of a Lifetime has won eight of 34 career starts, his most recent victory coming May 25 when he won going one mile on turf under Gomez at Golden Gate as an 11-1 longshot.
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