LAKings.com continues with THE SPORTING LIFE, a new multi-part summer series in which professional athletes talk about experiencing a Kings game at STAPLES Center.
In this second installment of The Sporting Life, LAKings.com features American thoroughbred jockey Garrett Gomez, who has won more than 3,000 races. Gomez has ridden in the Triple Crown races and he’s rode in and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2005 and 2008, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2007.
Check out LAKings.com/news to read the first installment featuring UFC/MMA legend Tito Ortiz. Future editions of The Sporting Life will feature a local MLB catcher, a pro golfer, an up-and-coming drag racer, a local and international soccer star, and an NFL veteran. We also will hear from a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who provides his unique insights on our sport.
First, here are questions and answers for Gomez, who lives in Duarte and attended a Kings-Blackhawks game:
Q: What brought you to STAPLES Center for the Kings-Chicago game?
A: Well I’m a big hockey fan and I’ve been living in LA for 12 or 13 years. I had a friend that played for the Blackhawks and he kind of got me into hockey, and whenever I get a chance while I’m home here in California I try to catch some games.
Q: Do you admire any particular players?
A: I’ve been watching the last couple years. I liked it when you got Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar before that. I’m a big fan and just enjoy the game on the whole.
Q: You are a competitive guy but as you watch the Kings game, is it hard or easy for you to relax and take it in?
A: No, it is easy for me to sit around and watch hockey because once upon a time I did ice skate a little bit and a few years ago I spent some time in New York and taught my two youngest kids to skate and as you get older you forget things and I scared myself. I really respect these guys with how much talent they have to do what they do and skate and how much talent they have with the puck. It’s just amazing and I know some of the stuff they can actually do they don’t use in games. And some of the stuff they can do with the stick-handling and the skating that goes along with it. You know that with these dudes and their muscles there’s just a high level of respect for what they do.
Q: Are there any other sports you love other than horse racing and hockey?
A: Mostly golf. I’m a big golfer. But I’m afraid my favorite sport here in LA is the hockey teams and my son is a big soccer fan, so we try to hit some soccer games. I enjoy it when hockey season comes around, otherwise I try to hit the golf course.
Q: Do you have a favorite golf course or local tourney?
A: Probably Riviera, where they still play a tournament. It used to be Nissan, but I still have a couple of friends who are members there and I get out there a couple times a year.
Q: You’ve won more than 3,000 races and that’s an amazing number. What is the highlight of your career so far?
A: Well that would be the Breeder’s Cup Classic riding Blaine and beating Zenyatta but all of the Breeder’s Cup races have been a nice highlight in my career and I’m trying to get one of those Triple Crown races now.
Q: Horse racing has had its tough moments in recent years. What is the landscape like right now?
A: Well right now it’s kind of hurting, and they’re trying to figure out how to get some fans out to get more support. Right now the fan support isn’t quite there and our horse population is down. Zenyatta was really good for the sport because she stuck around for a couple of years and helped with the fan base and brought a lot of people that didn’t know anything about the sport. Hollywood Park is still running for now but we need more fans to come out and see us. We would love for the hockey players to come out as well and support us.