Ramon Dominguez kept his friends close and his enemy closer on Friday.
Tracking a slowish pace, he and Hessonite stayed outside of their rival, Gitchee Goomie, then accelerated to the lead at the eighth pole to win the $150,000 Yaddo for New York-bred fillies and mares on Saratoga Race Course’s Mellon turf course.
It was the fourth meeting of the year between the two, one of which, the Beaugay, they both lost to Winter Memories.
Gitchee Goomie was a half-length in front of Hessonite to win the Mount Vernon and Dr. James Penny Memorial.
This time, Hessonite won, while Gitchee Goomie and jockey Alan Garcia couldn’t find enough spark when clear running room finally showed up in the middle of the stretch. They were fourth.
Despite the win, Hessonite’s trainer, David Donk declined to claim that they had a leg up in the rivalry, which also includes a win by Hessonite in last fall’s Ticonderoga.
“He outnumbers me this year, so at the moment, no,” Donk said of Gitchee Goomie’s trainer, Rick Violette. “I got one back, but only one.”
Dominguez and Hessonite kept Gitchee Goomie pinned to the hedge behind five horses all the way down the backstretch and into the turn. Hessonite responded when asked coming off the turn, and Gitchee Goomie couldn’t keep up.
Garcia steered her back to the hedge to look for running room inside Mystic City, then angled back out to the middle of the track. By then, Hessonite was on her way.
“The co-favorite was to my inside, and turning for home I felt I had a chance to get a jump on her,” Dominguez said. “Sure enough, my filly just accelerated.”
“You love to have your main contender on the inside of you,” Donk said. “I don’t know, it looks like maybe that filly didn’t run her best race today. But Ramon got a great trip, and she fired.”
After conferring with Garcia, Violette said the jockey the trip was fine, but Gitchee Goomie was “very quiet.”
“The spot opened up at the head of the lane that she normally just fires through, and she was a little bit one-paced,” Violette said. “It certainly wasn’t her best race. There was a spot that she normally would’ve filled and got through, and he didn’t have enough horse to get there.
Before the third race, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. injured his right ankle getting off Corinzia, who would not enter the starting gate. Ortiz was taken to Saratoga Hospital for X-rays, which were negative. He will ride today, and his mounts include Questing in the Grade I $600,000 Alabama.
Also in the third race, Stack the Storm was injured leaving the gate.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik was unaware of the injury, a laceration to the right shoulder, until after the race. She rode the Jonathan Sheppard-trained filly to victory, then Stack the Storm was vanned off and examined. She needed stitches, but nothing more.
ALPHA’S FINAL WORK
Winner of the Grade II Jim Dandy, Alpha put in his final workout toward the Grade I $1 million Travers, covering four furlongs on the main track in 48.91.
“I had him galloping out in 1:014⁄5,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin told the New York Racing Association. “Officially, I think they said 1:021⁄5, but he went great and all systems are go. Saturday is normally the day we work, but last week, we worked Thursday because of the weather, and there’s a chance of rain again today. The track had some moisture in it, but he handled it well.”
Fast Falcon went five furlongs in 1:00.54 for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who liked what he saw.
“He worked super and galloped out strong,” he said. “I just want to call [owner] Richard Pell and make sure we’re on the same page, but I’m fine with [running the Travers]. He’s going to be a long shot, which I like.”
Neck ‘n Neck is expected to breeze Sunday or Monday toward the Travers for trainer Ian Wilkes, depending on the weather.
’LADY’ WINS STAKES
Christophe Clement’s Lady Cohiba closed strongly to win the $100,000 Summer Guest in the second race. She came up to pace-setter Harbor Mist exiting the backstretch of the 11⁄8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies who have never won a graded stakes, but Harbor Mist kicked away from her into the stretch.
Lady Cohiba, under jockey Joel Rosario, had another run in her and flew through the final furlong to catch Harbor Mist and Moment in Dixie. Favored Ciao Bella finished fourth in the five-horse field.