Garrett Gomez, a jockey who won almost 4,000 races during his 25-year career, including 13 Breeders' Cup victories, struggled mightily with substance abuse, and was found dead in southern Arizona on Wednesday.
Authorities with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe said Thursday that Gomez was found unconscious on the floor of a hotel room Wednesday and pronounced dead at the scene.
Alfred Urbina, attorney general for the tribe, said foul play isn't suspected.
Gomez officially retired from racing in June 2015 but had been off the track since 2013, when he voluntarily was taken off all his mounts at Santa Anita because of personal problems. He was voted America's Eclipse Champion Jockey in 2007 and 2008 and was selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the victor of the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2011. He would win it again for 2008.
The victor of 83 Grade One races, he will perhaps be best remembered as the jockey of Blame, who beat Zenyatta in a dramatic conclusion to the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic. He was the top jockey in purses from 2006 until 2009.
Gomez co-wrote a book about his troubles with alcohol and drug addiction called: The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey's Journey Through Addiction and Salvation. He rode only sparingly after that.
An avid golfer, Gomez, who along with his second wife Pam, owned a home in nearby Duarte, devoted much of his time to the links when based in Southern California from the late 1990s until he stopped riding in 2013.
"He just kind of vanished", the agent said.
It was Zenyatta's final race after she had won her previous 19. His best finish in the Derby was a second in 2009 aboard Pioneerof The Nile, sire of Triple Crown victor American Pharoah.
"I enjoyed every horse I ever rode and I thank all of them for making my career". "I'd like to apologize to all my fans for leaving the sport the way I did". "I had a lot of awesome moments in this game". He had children Collin and Shelby from his first marriage.
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