08/27/2013 12:15PM

Dick Jerardi: Dominguez to get his day at Delaware Park

Barbara D. Livingston
Ramon Dominguez, whose riding career was ended this year by a brain injury, won 98 stakes at Delaware Park and was the track’s leading jockey each year from 2003-06 and in 2008.

Ramon Dominguez made his national reputation and earned his three Eclipse Awards by winning all those riding titles in New York and capturing major stakes around the country. But the great jockey set his career in motion at Delaware Park, where he won so often and with such style that everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he took his talent to Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has established Sept. 14 as Ramon Dominguez Day in the state.

“If there has ever been a Hall of Fame career synonymous with Delaware Park, it is his,” said John Mooney, Delaware Park’s executive director of racing. “During the years he dominated Delaware Park, he was also establishing himself on the national level by winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Wood Memorial, and Sword Dancer, just to name a few. Through it all, he did it the right way, and while he was an outstanding rider, he is a greater man. He made the Delaware Park family proud while he rode, and I am sure he will continue to make us proud in whatever he chooses to do.”

On the occasion of the 21st Owners’ Day at the track, fans will be able to buy a limited-edition Ramon Dominguez bobblehead doll, with proceeds benefiting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. A commemorative 8x10 photo of the 36-year-old rider, who retired this year due to a brain injury, will be given away, and Dominguez will sign autographs during the day. A trophy race will be named in his honor as part of the racing card.

Before winning 21 riding titles on the New York circuit, Dominguez owned Delaware Park. He won his first race there April 18, 1998. In all, Dominguez won 1,526 races at Delaware Park, along with 1,071 seconds and 860 thirds from 5,591 mounts. His horses earned $40.5 million at Delaware Park, and his victories at that track represent 31 percent of his 4,985 career wins.

Dominguez won 98 stakes at Delaware Park, including the Delaware Handicap twice. He was the leading jockey there each year from 2003-06 and in 2008. He set the track record for the most wins in a year with 254 in 2003.

Owners’ Day already was set to include four Delaware-certified stakes, two trophy races honoring Delaware state senators and representatives, and two Owners’ Day stakes. Now, it will be Ramon’s day, too.

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While still riding regularly at Delaware Park, Dominguez got his first Grade 1 win when A Huevo won the 2003 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. That was the tipoff that he was about to blow up nationally, and he did.

Now, on Sept. 14, Dominguez will be back where his career began to take off. It may have ended with that Jan. 18 spill at Aqueduct that resulted in a brain injury, but nobody at Delaware Park is ever going to forget Ramon Dominguez.

Million-dollar day at Parx

The incredible Ben’s Cat is scheduled to be the headliner on the Labor Day card at Parx Racing, where he will try to win the Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster for the third consecutive year. The usual grass-sprint suspects, some of them really talented, will challenge the King Leatherbury-trained star. Good luck to them.

Two other Grade 3 stakes will share the stage with the Turf Monster – the $350,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Greenwood Cup for marathoners. The $200,000 Turf Amazon is the female counterpart to the Turf Monster.

Labor Day is the start of Parx’s biggest month of the year, which continues with five stakes worth $400,000 in total Sept. 7; the $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup on Sept. 14; and, on Sept. 21, the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, the $1 million Cotillion, and the $300,000 Gallant Bob.

◗ Power of Snunner starter her career in February at Penn National. The 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly, owned and bred by James Courtney, has had a strong 10-race campaign, with three wins, four seconds, one third, and earnings of $110,950.

◗ Since July 1, jockey Jose Montano, with 34 wins, has twice as many victories as any other jockey at Charles Town. He has 116 wins and $2.7 million in purse earnings this year. Earlier in 2013, he passed 2,000 wins for his career.