BALTIMORE -- Garrett Gomez was a 16-year-old apprentice when he rode for several months on the Maryland circuit in 1988. The leading rider in North America this year in earnings, Gomez showed off most everything he has learned in the 18 years that have passed when he guided favored Pool Land to victory Friday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap at Pimlico.
Gomez coaxed Pool Land just off a solid pace set by Princess Pelona before really going to work on his filly, and she responded with a one-length victory over Josh's Madelyn in the du Pont.
"My job is to put them in a good place," said Gomez, now 34. "I did my part. The filly was there. She did everything absolutely perfect."
In the Gold finished third, another 3 1/4 lengths behind Josh's Madelyn in a field of nine. Then came Friel's for Real, Promenade Girl, Dance Fee, Princess Pelona, Silmaril, and Plata.
Pool Land, owned by the Melnyk Racing Stables, returned $5 after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.71 over a fast main track. The winning time was a stakes record, although the race distance was shortened from 1 1/8 miles three years ago.
The victory was the fifth in six career starts for Pool Land, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old by Silver Deputy. In her previous start, Pool Land won the Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland by 12 lengths. The duPont, formerly known as the Pimlico Distaff, is her first graded triumph.
"I thought she would rate," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "She has done everything right her whole life. We thought she was capable of picking up a graded win, so today was good for everyone."
Josh's Madelyn, the 9-2 second choice, ended a $2 exacta worth $24.20.