TORONTO, August 1, 2021 – Eurico Rosa da Silva, one of Canadian Thoroughbred racing’s most accomplished riders and popular personalities, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.
The coveted Gomez 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 the sport.
It is named in memory of one of the sport’s most heralded and loved performers. The Cuban-born Gomez died of complications after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Canadian Oaks.
The 46-year-old da Silva, now retired, is no doubt a worthy recipient of the award.
Da Silva won a slew of several impressive awards and high-profile races over the course of an outstanding career, including a pair of Queen’s Plate triumphs, and stirring upset scores in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International.
His catchphrase, “Good Luck To Everybody,” was always accompanied by a wide smile, words and a look that embodied an unabashed love for all things horse racing.
Da Silva now has another reason to flash that winning smile, as this year’s Gomez honouree. He ranks the distinction as one of the most treasured moments associated with his life in the saddle.
“What a nice surprise. Jessica Buckley [Woodbine Entertainment SVP, Standardbred & Thoroughbred Racing] called and told me. I was so happy. I didn’t expect this, but I feel very lucky. This is a great award. I am so thrilled. I feel like I know Avelino. I have heard so many stories about him. I’ve heard how great he was as a rider and how the fans loved him. So, to win this award that is named after one of the best riders, it is amazing.”
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, da Silva launched his career in his homeland before moving to Macau. He counts the Brazil Derby, a two-mile Group 1 turf race, among his most memorable early triumphs.
Upon his arrival at Woodbine in 2004, da Silva’s stated goal was to become the racetrack’s leading rider. He wasted no time in putting his plan in motion.
He recorded his first Woodbine victory on May 20, 2004, teaming with Point Hidden, a bay son of Tale of the Cat, for a half-length win over 5 furlongs on the main track.
From there, da Silva began his steady ascent in the jockey standings.
Da Silva first topped the standings in 2010 and won the riding title from 2015-2019. In 2018, he set the record for most wins in a single meet at Woodbine with 237 victories.
A seven-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s Outstanding Jockey, he has victories in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, including consecutive editions of The Queen’s Plate in 2009 and 2010, with Eye of the Leopard, and Big Red Mike, respectively.
In 2017, he teamed with longshot Bullards Alley to win the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Two years later, he engineered another upset, this time with El Tormenta in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International. He was a part of the Horse of the Year campaigns by Pink Lloyd (2017), Up With the Birds (2013), Biofuel (2010) and Fatal Bullet (2008).
Da Silva, who won his final stakes race with Pumpkin Rumble in the 2019 Valedictory Stakes, also made a name for himself on the international stage.
A lifetime winner of 2,286 races, da Silva bested his rivals to reign victorious in the 2017 World All-Star Jockeys Championship in Japan.
Now, he can add another cherished piece of hardware to his trophy case.
“When I look back on my career, I wanted to be a good rider, but I also wanted to help in the community as well,” said da Silva, who released his autobiography, ‘Riding For Freedom,’ in late 2020, and now works as a Certified Mind Coach. “The fans, the community around Woodbine, all of it is important to me.
“This honour made me reflect on my career and all the great people and horses I connected with. What it makes me think about is every day that I walked into the jocks’ room and how happy I was to do that. So many great riders, like Avelino, were there. I was proud to be able to walk into that room and be part of one of the toughest jockey colonies in the world. Woodbine is so competitive. When you are able to accomplish your dreams, it is very rewarding.”
To commemorate his contributions to the sport, a life-size statue of Gomez, who called Toronto home and raised a family there, keeps watch over Woodbine’s walking ring. A replica is presented to each year’s honouree.
Although presented annually on Woodbine Oaks day at Woodbine (August 1 this year), this year’s ceremony will take place on September 19 at Woodbine. With attendance currently limited to due COVID restrictions, the September date will allow more fans to share in the festivities.
Da Silva joins Ron Turcotte, Johnny Longden, Sandy Hawley, Don MacBeth, Chris Rogers, Jeff Fell, Lloyd Duffy, Hugo Dittfach, Robin Platts, Larry Attard, Don Seymour, David Gall, Richard Grubb, Irwin Driedger, David Clark, Jim McKnight, Chris Loseth, Richard Dos Ramos, Robert Landry, Francine Villeneuve, Sam Krasner, John LeBlanc Sr., George Ho Sang, Jack Lauzon, Robert King Jr., Stewart Elliott, Emile Ramsammy, Steve Bahen, Mickey Walls, Patrick Husbands, Quincy Welch, Gary Stahlbaum, Gary Boulanger, Emma-Jayne Wilson and Frank Barroby as Gomez honourees.