Lindberg Named 2024 Avelino Gomez Award Winner

Gunnar Lindberg (center) during his riding career | Lauren Heathcote

Gunnar Lindberg has been named the 2024 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.

The award is given to the person, Canadian-born, Canadian-raised or regular rider in the country for more than five years, who has made significant contributions to Thoroughbred racing. It is named in memory of the Cuban-born Gomez, who died of complications after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Canadian Oaks.

“I was quite surprised,” said Lindberg, who recorded 997 career riding wins, including 70 stakes. “Julie Bell [Woodbine's Senior Manager of Stakes Department and US & Foreign Horsemen's Services], who I have known for a long time, was the one to tell me, which meant a lot.

“I also rode with Avelino, which makes this that much more special. He was a mentor for me. When I won my first race, he led the charge on my initiation.”

His father, Herb Lindberg, was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1991. His grandfather, Joe Cowley, also had a successful run as a jockey, including his triumphs with multiple stakes winner Joey Bomber.

“When I was 16, I quit school and went to work for [trainer] Art Warner and Sam-Son Farm, which he started from scratch,” he said. “My first stakes winner was Runnin Roman, who was one of Sam-Son's favourite horses at the time. I also won the Grand Slam Handicap on Sam-Son's Instead of Roses at Arlington.”

Lindberg also rode Blushing Katy (Blushing Groom {Fr}), who was named Canada's Champion 3-year-old Filly for 1989.

Lindberg, who would ride at 30 racetracks, also enjoyed a successful run in the U.S.

“I was lucky enough to ride for [trainer] King Leatherbury in Maryland. Bill Passmore, who was his first call, helped get me into King's barn. Those were eight great years in Maryland. I was fortunate enough to also do well at Gulfstream the year I was there, which was riding for Kinghaven.”

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