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Gomez sets record for stakes victories

Times Staff Writer

Some 24 hours after tying Jerry Bailey for most stakes wins in a year, jockey Garrett Gomez passed the retired Hall of Famer.

The day after winning his 70th stakes of 2007 on Hucking Hot in the Audrey Skirball-Kenis to match Bailey’s 2003 accomplishment, Gomez is now in a league of his own after winning No. 71, scoring with 8-5 favorite Spring Awakening in the $108,100 Moccasin on Sunday at Hollywood Park.

“Until I tied it on Saturday, this really had not sunk in,” Gomez said. “This is the guy [agent Ron Anderson, who also represented Bailey] that did it right here. I just pointed him in the right direction.”

How many stakes victories Gomez will finish with remains to be seen, but he will have no shortage of chances in the final seven weeks of the year. Among the opportunities still ahead are the local Hollywood Derby and Matriarch, the Cigar Mile with Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute at Aqueduct and the Hollywood Starlet and Futurity.

Trained by Mike Mitchell for a partnership that includes breeder Gerald Frankel, Spring Awakening, a 2-year-old In Excess filly, won by two lengths and ran the seven furlongs in 1:21.38. Sindy Jacobson, who had won her first two starts against lesser, finished second, and The Golden Noodle was third.

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There will be a pick six carry-over of $143,528 when racing resumes Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

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Jockeys Fernando Jara and Jose Valdivia Jr. were taken to nearby Centinela Hospital Medical Center after being involved in a spill in the sixth race. Jara was being X-rayed for a possible injury to his collarbone while Valdivia complained of rib soreness.

Jara, who was riding first-time starter Stretchin The Take, and Valdivia, who was aboard Dewey’s Special, went down early in the stretch when the former appeared to clip heels.

The incident led to a lengthy stewards’ inquiry involving race winner Dee Dee’s Legacy, ridden by Gomez, but the stewards made no change to the original order of finish. Both Stretchin The Take and Dewey’s Special appeared to be uninjured.

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Dalvina, a 5-1 shot, was successful in her U.S. debut, easily winning the $150,000 Long Island Handicap on Sunday at Aqueduct.

Cornelio Velasquez rode the 3-year-old Grand Lodge filly, who covered the 1 1/2 miles over a turf labeled good in 2:34.35, for owners Marina and Andrew Stone and trainer Edward Dunlop. The win in the Grade III was the third in seven starts for Dalvina.

Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs, Inca King, a 3-1 shot, won for the fifth time in seven starts on grass, taking the $166,500 Commonwealth Turf.

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Little Bit Of Baja, a 32-1 shot, provided trainer Adan Farias with the biggest win of his career in the $792,850 Los Alamitos Super Derby on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Owned by Vessels Stallion Farm, the 3-year-old First Down Dash gelding defeated 3-1 third choice No Secrets Here by a nose in a Grade I in which the first five finishers were separated by about a neck. Blues Girl Too, the 7-5 favorite, finished fourth.

Little Bit Of Baja, who is two for two since joining the Farias barn, was ridden by Ramon Sanchez, who now has three consecutive victories in the Super Derby. Sanchez won with Apollitical Time in 2005 and Wave Carver last year.

The victory earned Little Bit Of Baja, who completed the 400 yards in 19.48 seconds, a berth in the $1-million Champion of Champions, which is run at 440 yards, on Dec. 15.

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bob.mieszerski@latimes.com


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