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Garrett Gomez (1972 - 2016)

Getty / Jeff Golden

Garrett Gomez (1972 - 2016)

Garrett Gomez, a former jockey who won 13 Breeders’ Cup races during his career, died Dec. 14, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 44.

According to the Daily Racing Form, Gomez was found dead Wednesday, according to a family friend, Jeanette Hughes, who spoke to his daughter Shelby.

“I’ve known Garrett since we were kids. I hope he’s at peace,” Hughes said. “Poor kid.”

Gomez died of an apparent drug overdose, according to another person with knowledge of the situation. He was found at a casino hotel near Tucson, Arizona.

Gomez won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2007 and 2008. He was the top rider in purse money from 2006 until 2009. His horses earned more than $200 million in purse money.

Gomez had substance abuse problems throughout his career. He last rode in 2013, and he retired from the sport officially in 2015.

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Gomez was aboard the horse Blame when he upset the legendary horse Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Even though Gomez won 13 Breeders’ Cup races, he never did win the Kentucky Derby. His best in that race was a 2009 second-place finish aboard Pioneer of the Nile.

In 2007, he broke Jerry Bailey’s record for most stakes victories in a season with 76.

Gomez wrote a book about his struggles: “The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation.”  The book was written as a cautionary tale to other riders.

Gomez was born Jan. 1, 1972, in Tucson, Arizona. He learned to ride horses by watching his father, Louie, who was a jockey in the southwestern United States.

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