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Nicole H Cruises in Garland of Roses

Nicole H took command on the far turn and went on to a 2 ½-length victory over Meese Rocks in Saturday’s 25th running of the $65,000 Garland of Roses at Aqueduct Racetrack, giving New York’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez, his fourth winner of the afternoon.


The narrow 8-5 favorite in the field of six fillies and mares, Nicole H broke sharply and was quickly guided by Dominguez to the outside of pacesetter Tar Heel Mom, who led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.04. Grabbing the lead with the half going in 45.66, Nicole H turned for home with a clear advantage and was never challenged as she cruised to the wire in 1:10.44 for the six furlongs over a fast inner track.


“I made it my mission to get her to the outside as soon as possible,” said Dominguez, who also scored Saturday aboard Reproduction ($5.20) in race 4 and Big Fearless ($6.20) in race 5 for trainer Todd Pletcher and with Leadwithyourchin ($11) for Nicole H’s trainer,  Mike Hushion, in race 7. “It’s been a great day, and winning with a filly like her makes it even better.”


Meese Rocks closed from fifth after bobbling at the start to head Tar Heel Mom for place, with McVictory, Love That Dance and Ocean Goddess completing the order of finish. Don’tgetsuspicious was scratched.

It was the second victory in four starts for Nicole H since being transferred to Hushion from the West coast, where she compiled a record of 1-4-2 in her first nine starts. In her East coast debut on August 22, the 3-year-old daughter of the late stallion Mr. Greeley finished second at Monmouth Park, then romped to a 10 ¾-length allowance win at Belmont Park before finishing a distant seventh as the even-money favorite in the Dream Supreme Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 6.


“We don’t know what happened there – it might fall under the ‘Some Horses Just Don’t Like Churchill Downs’ category,” said Hushion. “Today, around the turn, it looked just like the allowance race she won by 10 ¾ lengths.”


Nicole H returned $5.20 for a $2 win bet to her backers in the Big A crowd of 6,532, and earned $39,000 for her first stakes victory, which brought her bankroll to $150,344 for GEM Racing and managing partner John K. Waken.


Hushion said he had not decided on where the filly might make her next start.


“We just wanted to get her back here and find out if we had the same Nicole H,” he said. “And we did.”



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