Saratoga Day 3, 7/22
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- It was almost as if Ramon Dominguez decided that if they weren't going to let him ride in the Sanford, he was going to win everything else.
Dominguez's Sanford colt, Good Tickled, was scratched, but Dominguez won with six of seven mounts on today's Saratoga card to tie the single day record set by John Velazquez on Sept. 3, 2001. Dominguez nearly took sole possession of the record, but even-money favorite Current Design was second by a length in the fifth race.
"I was very excited about my chances," Dominguez said. "Everything just clicked into place, and I was riding good horses. Because it's at Saratoga, that makes it even more special. It doesn't get any better than this."
Bern Identity won the 98th Grade II Sanford for trainer Kelly Breen, jockey Rosie Napravnik and owners George and Lori Hall, taking advantage of a pace meltdown to catch front-runners Handsome Jack and Brave Dave to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
Dominguez, who rode at three different tracks on Saturday and didn't get to bed until after midnight, may have been a spectator for the Sanford, but he was the center of attention over and over the rest of the day, starting with the early double on Paper Plane and Summer Front in the listed Duluth Stakes.
His other winners were Rigby in the fourth, Temper in Command in the seventh and Reach for a Peach in the eighth, then the filly Wet One, squeezed through a narrow gap in a wall of horses coming off the turn to win the 10th.
"It was a great trip," Dominguez said. "But turning for home, I was very concerned because it didn't look like it was going to open up for me. I was happy my filly was so in-hand and ready to go right through it. Everything worked out great today."
Bern Identity, coming off a win by 13 3/4 lengths and a series of very fast works, was a step behind out of the gate as Handsome Jack and Brave Dave took off through splits of 21.60 for the quarter-mile and 44.70 for the half.
He took the lead inside the sixteenth pole to give Breen, the Halls and Napravnik their first graded stakes at Saratoga. He also earned a $100,000 bonus through NYRA's new juvenile program.
"He didn’t break great, but in the blink of an eye we were a length behind," Breen said. "She had to ride him coming out of there. Around the turn it was a little nerve-racking –- is he going to keep coming? –- she never had a chance to give him a breather. She sat on him a little bit around the turn and then asked him to go again. He showed a lot of grit."
Breen said he considers Bern Identity better suited for sprints, so he's not sure if he'll run him back in the Hopeful.