Making his first
start on turf, Dominus led every step under a measured ride from Julien
Leparoux and rolled to a 1 ¼-length victory over even-money favorite Data Link
in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race
The 4-year-old Smart Strike ridgling, who got an eight-pound break in
the weights from the favorite, went to the lead a few strides out of the gate
and galloped through unpressured fractions of 24.29, 48.63 and 1:12.26 over the
firm turf. Accelerating as he came out of the far turn, Dominus quickly opened
up on his five rivals and was never seriously threatened by Data Link’s
“He was the only speed in the race,
he just galloped easy, broke easy, and it was pretty easy for him,” said
Leparoux. “It was very nice for me at the end. He’s a nice horse.
First time on the grass, he was relaxed.”
Dominus’s winning time for the 1
1/16 miles was 1:40.32.
“We kind of anticipated he would be on the lead,” said Todd
Pletcher, who trains Dominus for George Bolton, Spendthrift Farm and
Stonestreet Stables. “The fractions were comfortable and he relaxed
nicely. Things went just like we hoped.”
The victory was the second in as many starts this year for Dominus, who
last year won the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont
Park while in the care of
trainer Steve Asmussen. Given time off after finishing fourth in the Grade 1
Foxwoods King’s Bishop last summer, Dominus returned on August 4 at Saratoga with an easy 4
¼-length victory in an optional claimer on the dirt.
“He’s still obviously a very nice dirt horse,” said
Pletcher. “It puts us in a position to pursue a lot of options.”
Sent off as the 9-5 second choice, Dominus returned $5.70 for a $2 win
bet and earned $150,000. Overall, he is 4-2-1 from eight career starts with a
bankroll of $439,329.
Data Link, the multiple graded-stakes winner from the barn of Hall of
Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, was 1 ¼ lengths in front of third-place finisher Sky
Blazer, who got off to a slow start. Following him under the wire were
Guy’s Reward, Queen’splatekitten and Prince Will I Am. Crimson
China and main track only entrant Alma
d’Oro were scratched.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese