01/01/2012 4:41PM

Aqueduct: Nicole H repeats in Interborough Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Nicole H wins the $75,000 Interborough Stakes by a neck over Winning Image.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Considering how long trainer Mike Hushion and jockey Ramon Dominguez were talking after the race, one wouldn’t have figured that they had just won Sunday’s $75,000 Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct with Nicole H.

While naturally pleased with the victory, Hushion was concerned that Nicole H, the defending Interborough winner and 2-5 favorite for this year’s renewal, wasn’t her dominating self and only won the race by a neck over Winning Image.

“Basically the last part, that she didn’t draw off, that she was pulling herself up a little bit, and she never did that before,” Hushion said when asked about his concerns. “The blinkers were cut back on her a little bit, maybe she’s getting a little older and wiser.”

Nicole H ran her career record to 6 wins from 17 starts and won the Interborough for the second straight year. She raced in between horses while in fourth position down the backside and didn’t find running room until upper stretch. When she did get room, Nicole H got to Winning Image, who had set legitimate early fractions, but had to work very hard to get by her. Nicole H covered the six furlongs in 1:10.99 and returned $2.90.

“She was actually, through the first part of the race, as brilliant as she has always been,” Dominguez said. “As she made the lead was when there was a change today. She was obviously slowing down the last sixteenth of a mile, you have to take into consideration she hasn’t run in while. I don’t know if that was a factor. She was a heavy favorite, and you expect them to perform even better. Overall, I was happy with her. There’s always room to improve, and she probably just got tired.”

Winning Image finished second by 1 3/4 lengths over Aquitania. She was followed in the order of finish by Isn’t She Grand, Bold Affair, and Don’tgetsuspicious.

Hushion, who trains Nicole H for John Waken’s GEM Racing, said Nicole H will be pointed toward the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February.