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Dance Card Waltzes Home in Gazelle

Dance Card (no. 2), ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, wins the 117th running of the grade 1 Gazelle Stakes for three year old fillies on November 24, 2012 at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)

Favored Dance Card lived up to her billing and won the first Grade 1 race of her young career, scoring gate-to-wire in the 117th running of the $350,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.

A gray daughter of Tapit owned by Godolphin Racing, Dance Card ran the final Grade 1 race of the year in New York in a time of 1:50.39 for 1 1/8 miles and paid $5.30 for a $2 win bet as the 8-5 favorite in a field of seven.

The victory capped a brilliant 36th birthday for jockey Ramon Dominguez, who also won the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap, the Grade 2 Remsen, and two other races on the rich Heineken Holidayfest card at the Big A. It was the second year in a row Dominguez won five races on his birthday.

“It seems like every day is your birthday,” quipped Richard Migliore in his post-Gazelle interview with Dominguez, the runaway leading rider at Aqueduct, on the MSG+ telecast.

Dominguez rode Dance Card with great confidence in the Gazelle, relaxing his mount under a moderate hold despite outside pressure from My Wandy’s Girl through a quarter mile in 23.92 seconds and a half in 48.62.

My Wandy’s Girl, a star in Puerto Rico who had won 14 of 18 lifetime starts going into the Gazelle, edged closer with a half-mile to go while second choice Book Review attempted to reach contention on the outside.

Neither stood a chance, however, as Dance Card effortlessly shook clear, pushing off to a four-length win while making her way out toward the grandstand side of the track. Late-running 22-1 long shot Sea Island edged My Wandy’s Girl by a neck at the wire for second.

My Wandy’s Girl was followed by Lady Cohiba, Book Review, Jemima’s Pearl and Wildcat’s Smile.

“It’s not ideal [drifting out in the lane], but as long as they cross the wire first …,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who was mired in a 1-for-51 slump before the victory. “If that’s what it takes, we’ll take it.”

In the winner’s circle, Dominguez gushed about Dance Card’s quality to the winning connections.

“When she drifted out in the stretch, she was just looking around,” he said. “I’m not worried about it or complaining about it. She’s a beautiful animal with high cruising speed, and she can pick it up whenever you ask her. She was perfect through the whole race, and down the lane she wanted to drift out some, but she keeps running. She’s special, and I love her.”

The victory was the fourth in the five-race career of Dance Card, who will now head to Florida for the winter with McLaughlin. She has now earned $372,200. 


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