By: T.R. Slyder, TRSlyder@yahoo.com
Jockey Garrett Gomez made his Sophiesque decision today and picked Pioneer of the Nile. Gomez was the regular rider for both Pioneer of the Nile and phenom Dunkirk, meaning he was forced to pick between the two for the Derby. Both will be among the top 4 favorites at the Derby, so this choice was difficult and could eventually lead to a lot of regret for Gomez.
It was kind of a case of, "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush" for Gomez, since P.O.T.N. has won his last four starts, whereas Dunkirk is lighly-raced but seemingly has a much higher ceiling. Ultimately it seemed as though his decision was made mostly out of loyalty to the connections of P.O.T.N., in essence, thanking them for all the money he's made with them. The logic being, "I like both horses, but one's paid me a lot more."
Decisions choosing between two mounts in one race is nothing new to racing, and bettors love to keep an eye out for them. Ideally, bettors hope that the jockey has some kind of inside information regarding the two, and his decision is a prescient one. Jockeys choose "incorrectly" all the time, so it isn't enough to base your bet solely on a jockey's decision, but it's always worth noting.
My guess is that had Dunkirk and Pioneer of the Nile made Gomez equal amounts of cash, he would side with Dunkirk. Or maybe Gomez knows something I don't.
UPDATE: Edgar Prado will now ride Dunkirk in the Derby.