Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: January 29, 2016

  • ·Jocelyne Gomez: Fresh and Flourishing
  • ·Forever Unbridled Ready for 4-Year-Old Campaign
  • ·Work Tab




Jockey Jocelyne Gomez is not your typical rider. Aside from being one of the few female riders in the highly contentious Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots colony, she also has not had the most run-of-the-mill lead-up to what has been a very successful 2015-16 meet thus far for the veteran rider.

At 38, a spring chicken Gomez is not, and the daughter of ex-jockey and current New Orleans-based trainer Jorge Gomez has proven anything but chicken on the racetrack. A fearless type with a noticeably adept breaking ability, she has used her bold early moves to the lead and proceeded to somehow save just enough to prove victorious at various trips. Not simply one-dimensional, she has ruled the roost in multiple races with stalkers and closers, while landing herself in the winner’s circle 13 times. Through Thursday’s card, Gomez sports a smart 15% strike rate and is 13thin the standings from just 85 mounts – less than half the mounts of the top-six riders.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gomez, that is acceptable, as she is riding her first full meet at the New Orleans oval and is just three years into a return to the races after a long lull.

“The meet’s going great,” Gomez said. “I wasn’t expecting to do so well the in my first year being at Fair Grounds. I shipped in here last year and won the Star Guitar Stakes with Udoknowjack, but I wasn’t here the whole time. I’ve had a great opportunity to ride not only for my dad, but for lots of different trainers like Joe Sharp and Al Balderas and a few others who have supported me.

“I actually took out my license in 1997, but was off for 11 years,” she continued. “I was a mother during my time off and have 10-year-old daughter. I lost my bug in 1998 and then as a journeyman I was elected as one of the top jockeys at Gulfstream (Park). It was tough to give up, but I had to choose between being a mother or riding and I chose to be a mother. Coming back to riding after 11 years is tough, but I love riding and I enjoy the horses and the people. My dad was a jockey and I was the only one of the three daughters to take that path – so it means a lot.”

Represented by agent Jerry Reites, Gomez explained some of her strengths, most notably her ability with front-running horses.

“Being on the front is my strong suit, along with breaking a horse out of the gate,” she said. “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve done well getting a horse out of the gate. On the lead, the key is getting them out of there and letting them breathe and get their air. Once you switch leads, you have to let them get a nice second breather before they turn for home.”

A direct and likable character, Gomez looks forward to the challenge of what has been a talented and challenging local colony.

“I have to be realistic, but my goal is to be in the top five jockeys,” she concluded. “It’s a tough colony and for me to have won 13 races already is an accomplishment already and makes me happy.”



Trainer Dallas Stewart, who has had his fair share of talented fillies in the past, looks forward to what could be a big 2016 4-year-old season for Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled. Starting solely in stakes events throughout a tough six-race sophomore campaign, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song and full-sister to 2015 Grade I winner Unbridled Forever ended the year with the best effort thus far in her career – a game neck victory in the Grade III $300,000 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct.

“She’s training very well since her last race at Aqueduct,” Stewart said. “She’s had some good breezes and we think we could have a good year with her. She just arrived (Friday morning at Sam Houston).”

Forever Unbridled, who has been working steadily at her home Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots base, will commence her 4-year-old campaign with the Grade III $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at said Houston, Texas, track on Saturday evening, where her main competition appears to be fellow New Orleans-based Cassatt, from the barn of Larry Jones for Fox Hill Farms. Joel Rosario rides from the rail.

“She’s definitely a two-turn type of filly,” Stewart continued. “She’s a little stronger than her sister in respect to being bigger and having a huge stride. She also has great airways. I am looking down the road to the Saratoga and Belmont and Grade I races for her.”

The veteran conditioner, who also trained Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine – another daughter of Unbridled’s Song – as well as Forever Unbridled’s Kentucky Oaks-winning dam Lemons Forever, started her four times at Fair Grounds during its 2014-15 season, including a graduation and placings in all three Kentucky Oaks preps behind Eclipse Award finalist I’m a Chatterbox.



Stakes winner Speightsong worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Grant Forster. The multi-surface specialist exits a game fourth in the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes on Jan. 2 for Bond Stables, Naber Racing, Iron Horse Racing et al.

Paul Van Doren’s Rise Up, who seemed to wake up in his last start when winning a conditioned allowance at Delta Downs, worked a half-mile in 49.20 for trainer Tom Amoss. The graded stakes winner has posted three strong four-furlong breezes since his aforementioned six-length win.

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, seventh in his 5-year-old debut in allowance company on Jan. 16 at Fair Grounds, worked a half-mile in 50 flat for trainer Dallas Stewart.


-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer