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Breeders' Cup 2017

Big Sunday for Dominguez at Belmont Park

Jockey Ramon Dominguez
Ramon Dominguez joined Jorge Velasquez as one of two jockeys to win six races in a single day at Belmont Park, aided by a sweep of Sunday's New York Stallion Series races aboard Darrin's Dilemma and Hessonite.

It was the 16th time a jockey has won six races on a single card on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit. If not for Friend Or Foe wearing down Dominguez's mount, fellow comebacker Rail Trip, in the $60,000 Easy Goer overnight stakes, he would have become the first jockey to win seven races in a single day at a NYRA track.

In race 6, the $75,000 NYSS Spectacular Bid Division for 3-year-olds, Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables' Darrin's Dilemma employed a new running style, rating in second as favored Bold Deed set fractions of 23.36 and 46.36. Given his cue nearing the quarter pole, Darrin's Dilemma took command in upper stretch en route to a one-length victory over the pacesetter.

"I think the key factor today with him is how well he relaxed," said Dominguez of Darrin's Dilemma, who entered today's race off a victory in the six-furlong NYSS Times Square Division on May 11. "He can be very quick and he's coming off these real short distance races and I was afraid that he would be too keyed up, but he relaxed so nicely and that really helped him. Of course, the grass maybe moved him up as well, but he just relaxed great."

The Spectacular Bid was the first start on turf for Darrin's Dilemma, who completed seven furlongs over firm going in 1:21.94. The son of Freud returned $7.10 for a $2 win wager as the 5-2 second choice, improved his record to 3-2-0 from five starts, and earned $45,000 to lift his bankroll to $144,700.

"I was very happy he liked the grass," said winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "He ran big for us. I was a little concerned because he usually goes to the lead, but it was good for us that he relaxed and made the winning move. Ramon did a very good job with him, and we got lucky."

Dominguez's sixth win came in race 9, the $75,000 NYSS Cupecoy's Joy, aboard Hessonite, his final mount of the day. Reserved in fifth early, Hessonite was guided off the rail entering the upper turn, ranged up three wide turning for home, and blew by her opponents once put to a drive, finding the wire 3 3/4 lengths to the good of Lady On the Run.

"It could have been seven, but I got beat early on," said Dominguez moments after his Cupecoy's Joy victory. "It really wasn't me. It was the horses. I'm very happy. I didn't know I was only the second rider to win six races [at Belmont Park]."

Hessonite, who was cutting back in distance off a triumph in a 1 1/16-mile New York-bred allowance over soft turf at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 23, completed the Cupecoy's Joy's seven-furlong distance in 1:22.78 and returned $4.70 as the 6-5 favorite. Trained by David Donk for William J. Punk, Jr. and Philip Di Leo, she ran her record to 3-0-0 from 5 starts.

"Today the concerns were reversed," said Donk. "Today's race was much shorter, with it being over firm ground. She's going to be a pretty useful filly. [Dominguez] said she got to wandering a little bit, but once he hit her one time, she went about her business."

Hessonite has earned $102,310 to date, including $45,000 for her Cupecoy's Joy success. Like Darrin's Dilemma, Hessonite is by Freud.

Dominguez began his historic day with a victory in the first race, a one-mile optional claimer, aboard favored Saginaw ($3.00) coming from just off the pace to win by three-quarters of a length. Without a mount in the second, he returned to win the $60,000 Xtra Heat with Bellamy Star ($11.40), posted a front-running win on Little Larky ($9.30) in race 5, and extended his victory total to five in race 7 with favored Show Trial ($3.40), who rallied to win the one-mile claiming race by 1 ¾ lengths.

Overall, Dominguez won six races from eight mounts, while Velasquez went six-for-six on June 9, 1981.

In the Easy Goer, race 3 on the card, Friend Or Foe opened his 4-year-old season with a hard-fought head victory.

The homebred Friends Lake colt, last year's New York-bred 3-Year-Old Champion Colt, tracked Rail Trip in third through fractions of 23.23, 46.01 and 1:09.14 and finished the 1 1/16 miles under Alex Solis in a swift 1:40.13.

Rail Trip, making his first start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last October, was 5 ¼ lengths clear of Convocation.

"It was a sharp effort by both horses," said John Kimmel, who trains Friend Or Foe for Chester and Mary Broman. "He kind of ground him down and showed his fitness was up to where I wanted it to be. He sat off the pace and made a good run in racehorse time."

Victorious in all three starts against state-breds last year, including the Mike Lee and the Empire Classic, in which he set a stakes record of 1:46.94 for the 1 1/8 miles, Friend Or Foe also finished fourth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, sixth in the Grade 1 Travers, and fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

The even-money favorite in the field of four, Friend Or Foe returned $4.20 for a $2 win bet and earned $36,000 as he extended his record to 4-0-0 from seven starts.

His next start, said Kimmel, will like be in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on July 2.

"Hopefully he cycles back in and will be ready for the Suburban," said the trainer. "I would prefer that he didn't have to run so hard to win, but I think he'll move forward off the race if he gets enough time. It was a very good race. This is a really good horse, and I hope to have a really good campaign with him."

Tahitian Warrior was fourth, and Mission Impazible was scratched.



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