12/07/2011 5:38PM

Aqueduct: Dominguez resumes winning ways

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Well Kept (4), with Ramon Dominguez riding, is a nose second to Dance to Bristol in the Pandera.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Back after a three-day suspension and a trip to Japan, jockey Ramon Dominguez picked up where he left off, riding Day of Destiny – his first mount of the inner-track season – to victory in Wednesday’s second race at Aqueduct.

Dominguez, who won races at a 33-percent clip during Aqueduct’s main-track meet, looked like a winner aboard 2-5 shot Well Kept in the $60,000 Pandera Stakes in the third but somehow lost a nose decision to Dance to Bristol. Dominguez made up for that loss by guiding 6-1 shot Better Lucky, a first-time starter by Ghostzapper, to victory in the fourth. Dominguez finished the day with two wins from five mounts.

Dominguez has dominated the inner-track standings the last four winters and figures to do so again this winter, though possibly not to the same degree as years past. Dominguez has become so much in demand that he expects to make more trips out of town this winter than in previous years. Later this month, he has two day trips scheduled for both Florida and California.

“It’s a good position to be in to go out of town and ride a good horse or a potentially good 3-year-old,” Dominguez said between races Wednesday afternoon. “I love the fact that I’ve been able to do well enough to lead some of the standings in New York, but it’d be kind of silly to give up going out of town to ride a potentially good horse to stay and win more races here. I feel like this year I can really foresee going out of town a lot more on the weekends.”

Some might have expected Dominguez to winter at Gulfstream. But with his family in New York and the purses here expected to rise 36 percent later this meet thanks to Aqueduct’s new casino, staying home makes sense both personally and professionally.

“It’s just very convenient with the family staying here,” Dominguez said. “Having said that, if next year or in the near future the opportunity is there where we think that the right thing to do is to go south, we’ll do what we need to do at that time.”

Following his Eclipse Award season of 2010, Dominguez has followed that up with an even better 2011 statistically speaking and will definitely be in the running for a second straight Eclipse. He tops all North American riders with $19,364,256 in purse earnings and his 325 wins – before Wednesday – put him behind only DeShawn Parker. He entered the week with 300 wins on the New York Racing Association circuit.

Dominguez won a personal single-year best 24 graded stakes, 10 of those being Grade 1’s. He was the regular rider of Horse of the Year candidate Havre de Grace and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile aboard Hansen.

“Definitely the last month of the year if you have a chance of maybe being an Eclipse Award winner it’s something you think about,” Dominguez, who celebrated his 35th birthday last month by winning five races on the Thanksgiving Day card at Aqueduct. “It’ll be excellent if it happens. It was such a pleasant experience having won it last year. If I don’t win it, that’s not going to define my year.”