10/01/2009 11:00PM

Dominguez gets mount on Dublin


ELMONT, N.Y. - Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas is not normally seen around these parts for extended periods of time in the fall. But Lukas arrived in town Thursday night and will be here through next weekend to prepare Hopeful winner Dublin for a start in the Grade 1 Champagne here Saturday.

Dublin and Lukas arrived Thursday from Kentucky, where Dublin had been stabled since winning the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga on Sept. 7. He has worked twice at Churchill, and Lukas planned to give him one more breeze here either Sunday or Monday.

"Dublin's had a really good 30 days, he's done well," Lukas said Friday morning. "He's developed, he's grown, he's put on weight through heavy training; I couldn't be more pleased. Most of those 2-year-olds turning 3 take that spurt in January or February or March, but he seems to have made a growth spurt and a mental spurt for me in the last 30 or 40 days. I feel really good about him."

Lukas said that more than likely a good performance by Dublin in the Champagne would earn him a trip to Southern California for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, though Lukas isn't thrilled about running Dublin over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.

"I'd really like to keep him on natural soil, but the magnitude of the race and [owners] William Mack and Bob Baker, I know their heart is to maybe win a Breeders' Cup," Lukas said. "If I can, I'd like to give them that opportunity. Having said that, the negatives are we're going out and taking on some nice horses on their surface . . . so it's a disadvantage."

Lukas is hoping to give himself an advantage in the Champagne by making a rider change from Jamie Theriot to Ramon Dominguez.

"We've always dealt with these riders as a one-race contract," Lukas said. "In light of what we're trying to do and the magnitude of the race, I thought if we could get one of the leading riders in New York we needed to do that. I, years ago, quit leading with my heart and started leading with my business sense."

With Futurity winner D' Funnybone expected to skip the Champagne, Dublin will likely be favored in a field that is expected to include Aspire, Gun Rock, Homeboy Kris, Not Macho Any More, Super Saver, Toboggan Slide, and possibly Smiling Tiger. Trainer Stanley Hough said he is leaning toward passing the Champagne with Futurity runner-up Discreetly Mine.

Dominguez wins 300th NYRA race this year

Dominguez became just the fifth jockey to win 300 races on this circuit in a calendar year when he guided Bon Marie ($4.80) to victory in Friday's fifth race. He added 301 in the next race when he guided Cat on a Quest to an easy score.

Dominguez joined the likes of Steve Cauthen (433 wins in 1977), Angel Cordero (340 in 1982, 309 in 1983), Mike Smith (330 in 1991, 313 in 1993), and Eibar Coa (303 in 2006) as the only riders to win 300 races on this circuit in a single year.

"It feels great," Dominguez said. "When the year starts, you don't target anything like this. The days roll along, and you start winning races and you hit 300. It's something to be proud of, especially in New York."

With more than 50 scheduled racing days remaining, Dominguez has a real chance to post the second winningest year by any rider in New York. Not bad for his first full year on the circuit.

Maram works for Pebbles Stakes

Maram, undefeated in four starts including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, will make her next start in the $100,000 Pebbles Stakes on Monday, Oct. 12, trainer Chad Brown confirmed Friday.

Maram, who was forced to miss the Grade 1 Garden City due to foot problems, worked five furlongs in 1:02.44 over the Belmont turf Friday, getting her last three furlongs in 36.51 seconds. She worked in company with Silver Timber, who is targeting the $125,000 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 10 or the $500,000 Nearctic at Woodbine going six furlongs on Oct. 17.

Maram came off a 10-month layoff to win the John Hettinger Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 8. She was pointing to the Garden City before shedding the frogs on both her front feet. The frogs act as a shock absorber for a horse's foot. Brown was going to run Maram in the Garden City with bar shoes on, but scratched when the turf came up soft.

"I'm not back to square one, because it's not as long a layoff as the last time," Brown said. "I want to get her back into having a series of races in a row. I wouldn't feel comfortable running her over a mile until she has a mile race in her."

Last year, Maram won the Miss Grillo in her second start after winning a $75,000 claimer at Saratoga in her debut. In Sunday's renewal of the Miss Grillo, Brown sends out Zodiac Girl, who won a $75,000 claimer at Saratoga last month.

"Maram is a bigger, stronger filly that's a little more tactical," Brown said. "This filly will run a bit further. I don't think she's quite as at tactical, but she's long-winded. Down the road, she's a filly that will run a distance of ground."

Haynesfield finishes second in return

Be Bullish ruined Haynesfield's return to the races by coming back on that rival turning for home and outfinishing him to win Friday's $66,250 Sir Keys Stakes by a head. Haynesfield, the 1-2 favorite, got second by a nose over Legal Consent. Haynesfield, last year's New York-bred juvenile champion, was making his first start since finishing next-to-last in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 7.

Be Bullish, a 4-year-old gelded son of Pure Prize, won for the sixth time in 28 starts but first in 12 starts dating back to Nov. 19, 2008. Be Bullish, under Kent Desormeaux, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.96 and returned $21.20. He is owned by Herbert and Carol Schwartz and trained by Scott Schwartz.