Thoroughbred racing learned of the loss of one of its brightest stars Wednesday with the news of the sudden passing of champion jockey Garrett Gomez.

Gomez reportedly died at a casino in Tucson, Arizona, at age 44. A winner of the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2007 and 2008, Gomez also was tabbed by his peers as the winner of the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2011. He led the North American rider standings by purses won for four straight years, from 2006 to 2009, and earned praise for his finishing ability during his lengthy and successful career.

Gomez rode on the West and East Coasts during his career, including stints at Saratoga Race Course, where the team behind ST Publishing and This Is Horse Racing covered him for The Saratoga Special. We dug into the archives to take a look back the career of Gomez, who rode 3,769 races that included 13 Breeders’ Cup victories.

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We know there's more as he was a regular reader – and volunteer proofreader – of The Special, racing fan and friend of our efforts to tell good stories about horses and the people in the game. RIP, Go-Go, you were one of a kind.