Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1990
Six times top race winning jockey in Canada
Four Queen's Plate victories
Top jockey in North America
Inducted into Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Sovereign Award of Merit for contributions to Canadian Thoroughbred Racing
Cuban-born Avelino Gomez was 14 when an uncle urged him to ride a horse for the first time. Young Avelino won his first major race at age 16 and garnered his first American headlines in 1949 when he rode six winners in a single afternoon at Ascto Park in Ohio. He rode his first full season in Canada in 1956 with great success, then settled with his family in Toronto in 1959. Known as "El Perfecto," "Go Go Gomez," and the "Cuban Hawk," Gomez won more than 4,000 races during his brilliant career. He was Canada's top race winning jockey six times between 1956 and 1966. Gomez won every major stakes race in Canada and rode many top thoroughbreds to victory in major American stakes races. He rode the winning horses in the Queen's Plate four times between 1957 and 1969 and was the best rider in all of North America in 1966. Gomez was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 1978 and the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in 1982. He was awarded a Sovereign Award of Merit for his contributions to the sport in Canada in 1978. El Perfecto briefly retired on three occasions during his career but always found a reason to return to the track. His career tragically came to an end, however, during the Canadian Oaks Stakes at Woodbine racetrack in 1980. Gomez was involved in an horrific three-horse accident, and his injuries proved to be fatal. At the time of his death, he was ranked seventh in wins among jockeys worldwide. In 1984, the Avelino Gomez Memorial Foundation was established to aid struggling jockeys. Also in his memory, the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award is given each year to a Canadian jockey who has followed in El Perfecto's footsteps by making a significant contribution to thoroughbred racing in Canada.