08/21/2002 11:00PM

Dominguez itching to get back


Don't count out Ramon Dominguez just yet.

When Dominguez sustained a fractured left wrist in a spill on July 24, his doctor projected he would need 10 to 12 weeks before he could resume riding again.

Now Dominguez is talking about getting back in the saddle well before the end of Delaware Park's meet on Nov. 17. He's also hopeful he still can finish the season as the meet's leading rider.

"I don't want to get too excited and I don't want to get my hopes up too high, because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't happen," said Dominguez, 25, who was the second leading rider in the nation at the time of his injury. "But I feel like I am making pretty steady progress and I would be surprised if I'm not back in about a month.

"I might be totally wrong, but I'm just trying to stay upbeat," he added. "If I can get back as soon as I hope, maybe I can still be the leading rider. I just don't want to give up that idea. It really helps to motivate me."

Through Wednesday, Dominguez had ridden 104 winners at Delaware, 16 more than Mike McCarthy and 23 more than last year's riding champion, Jeremy Rose.

Dominguez, who has one pin inserted into his hand and another in his arm to help heal the fracture, said he's hoping to get good news when he visits the doctor for his next check-up in two weeks. In the meantime, he's determined to stay as fit as possible.

"I promised myself that this time I was not going to let myself get too heavy like I did a couple of years ago when I fractured my skull," Dominguez said. "I'm exercising as much as I can and maintaining my weight."

Night Patrol heads Caesar Rodney

A pair of California shippers add some intrigue to a strong field of 11 older turf horses for Saturday's $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

Night Patrol, the probable favorite, has finished within three lengths of the winner in three consecutive graded stakes in Southern California, highlighted by a win in the Grade 3 Inglewood at Hollywood Park.

Devine Wind just missed in the Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood on July 4, but is winless in seven starts this year.

Dr. Kashnikow, who breaks from the far outside post, was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths by Del Mar Show in the New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham Park, then was nosed out by Syncline in the Sussex at Delaware.

Navesink was one of the top 3-year-olds on turf last season, but has yet to regain that good form in three starts this year. His best performance was a third in the Poker at Belmont.

* Jockey Anthony Black will have to wait until at least Saturday to reach a milestone in his long career. Black rode two winners at Delaware on Tuesday to bring his career total to 4,499, but was 0 for 5 on Wednesday. He is named on three mounts on Saturday's card.

* Mark Johnston is 19 winners away from reaching 3,000 wins for his career. Johnston, the 1990 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice, ranks eighth in the Delaware standings with 29 winners.

* The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission has approved five additional race days for this season. Wednesdays were added to continue a five-day-a-week schedule through the end of the meet.

for entries.

Subscribers: to purchase Past Performances.

Non-subscribers: Click here to purchase Past Performances.