02/19/2011 4:48PM

Alma d'Oro dominates John Campbell Handicap


On paper, the John B. Campbell Handicap was a two-horse race between Arson Squad and Alma d’Oro. When Arson Squad scratched, presumably due to a foot infection, the Campbell became a one-horse race both on paper and on the track.

Under Cornelio Velasquez, Alma d’Oro took over from the pacesetting Philly Bound leaving the three-furlong pole and cruised to 4 1/4-length victory in the $75,000 Campbell at Laurel Park. Fonda Ronda Won got second by a head over Auctoritas.

The win was the sixth from 18 starts for Alma d’Oro, a 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro owned by Robert and Mary Ellen Bourque and trained by Todd Pletcher. Alma d’Oro covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.18 and returned $2.60 as the heavy favorite.

“He did it really well, Cornelio gave him a great ride,’’ said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to Pletcher. “He’s a great big, beautiful horse with a great mind.’’

It was Alma d’Oro’s first win at 1 1/8 miles, and he may now be pointed to the Grade 3, $100,000 Excelsior at Aqueduct on April 2.

“From his body type and his pedigree, it seems like that’s what he’s looking for,’’ Thomas said in regards to the distance. “He’s got a tremendous gallop. I know they went slow, but it was nice to see him draw off.’’