Ramon Dominguez’s weekend started with a tough trip, and ended with a dream trip.
Dominguez and the filly Wet One squeezed through a narrow gap in the stretch and won the 10th race at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday to give the Venezuela
native six winners on the 10-race card, tying John Velazquez’s single-day Saratoga record.
Because of a variety of obligations, Dominguez rode at three different tracks on Saturday, and didn’t get to bed until 12:20 Sunday morning.
He skipped morning workouts to catch up on some rest, only to see his mount, long shot Good Tickled, get scratched from the feature, the Grade II Sanford.
Dominguez went out and won just about everything else on the card.
From seven mounts, he won the first (Paper Plane, $8.30 to win), second (Summer Front, $2.90), fourth (Rigby, $9.40), seventh (Temper in Command, $8.60) and eighth (Reach for a Peach, $6.90).
He almost had sole possession of the record, but even-money favorite Current Design finished second by a length in the fifth race.
“I was very excited about my chances,” Dominguez said. “Everything just clicked into place, and I was riding good horses. Because it’s at Saratoga, that makes it even more special. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Velazquez, who is scheduled to return to riding on Wednesday after being out for over a month with a broken collarbone, won six races from 10 mounts on Sept. 3, 2001.
In the finale, Dominguez kept his cool despite the fact that Wet One got in a tight spot coming off the turn after comfortably tracking the leaders in mid-pack on the hedge down the backstretch.
Daylight finally appeared, and she squeaked through a wall of horses and outfinished everyone down the middle of the track.
“It was a great trip,” Dominguez said. “But turning for home, I was very concerned because it didn’t look like it was going to open up for me. I was happy my filly was so in-hand and ready to go right through it. Everything worked out great today.”
Although the meet is only three days old, Dominguez gave himself a big boost in the race for the jockey title, which he won in 2009.
With nine winners, he’s up six on Joel Rosario, Edgar Prado, Jose Lezcano, Irad Ortiz Jr. and Rosie Napravnik.
Summer Front went off as the 2-5 betting favorite in the Duluth on Sunday, at a mile on the inner turf, and burst away from the field inside the sixteenth pole to win by two lengths over Lockout.
It was the fifth win in seven
career starts for the son of War Front and third stakes win, but he continues to pursue his first graded- stakes win.
“There was a slow pace, and it was amazing confidence from Ramon [Dominguez],” trainer Christophe Clement said. “He ran great. Ramon knows him very well, and he does not make many mistakes. There is no plan at the moment, let’s enjoy this. The whole idea is to give him a career as a 3-year-old.”
Star Channel went through a half-mile in 49.26 and six furlongs in 1:12.49, while Summer Front and Dominguez sat back in fifth.
Dominguez incrementally asked for some acceleration on the turn, and Summer Front gave it to him.
“It’s very exciting with this horse, every race he has been relaxing even more and is very mature,” Dominguez said. “I could tell that they were going slow enough in front that there was a little concern because I was on a closer and I didn’t want to push the button any earlier than I had to.
“At the same time, you have to compensate for the slow fractions, I found myself asking him around the three-eighths pole, and the
response was there, but I was still hoping they would come back because of the firm ground. I could not be happier with the way he finished up and the way he’s improving.”
DURKIN AT LIBRARY
Track announcer Tom Durkin will be the guest for another installment of the Saratoga Racing Legends Series at the Saratoga Springs Public Library at 7 tonight.
The program is free to the public.
Turf writer and former Daily Gazette sports columnist Mike Kane will interview Durkin, then they’ll open it up for questions from the audience.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Coaching Club American Oaks winner Questing will point toward the Alabama, but he’s a little leery of the four-week spacing between the races.
Runner-up Zo Impressive will also head on to the Alabama, trainer Tom Albertrani said, especially since the Mother Goose winner remains one of the top contenders in the 3-year-old filly division.
“Right now, she’s done as much as any 3-year-old filly has accomplished,” Albertrani said.
LOOKING FOR A SPOT
Albertrani would like to find a spot for Brilliant Speed to run at Saratoga, but he and owner Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation are weighing circumstances and aren’t sure where to run him yet.
The 4-year-old has just three wins from 18 career starts, but one of them was at Saratoga last year, in the Saranac. He also won the Grade I Blue Grass on the Polytrack at Keeneland to gain a spot in the Kentucky Derby, where he was seventh.
Since winning the Saranac, Brilliant Speed is 0-for-6, including three Grade I’s.
He finished the 2011 season with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“He ran a good third in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic,” Albertrani said. “He didn’t catch a lot of pace that day, but he still ran an honest race, he wasn’t beaten far.
“He ran back in the Manhattan, and same thing, we got no pace again, it looked like he was right there and it was a funny sprint to the end. He’s kind of always right there, and we actually haven’t had a lot of racing luck. And his last race [United Nations], [Joel] Rosario just strangled him, took him back to last when he should’ve been up closer to the lead, and same thing. The horse never had a chance to get into a rhythm.”
Albertrani said Brilliant Speed wants to go long, but perhaps it’s time to start looking for softer competition.
The Bernard Baruch could fit that scenario, except that the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance is short for Brilliant Speed, Albertrani said.