03/12/2008 11:00PM

Dominguez ties record for wins on inner track


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Ramon Dominguez calls himself his harshest critic. But even Dominguez would have a hard-time finding something to criticize about his performance in New York this winter.

With his two wins on Thursday, Dominguez has amassed 105 victories during the first 68 days of Aqueduct's inner track meet. That is believed to equal Eibar Coa's record set in 2005-06. That year, Dominguez had 100 wins.

With Coa riding this winter at Gulfstream and Alan Garcia enduring a 4-for-61 slump in early January, Dominguez has taken advantage and has been as dominant as a rider could be. He sits atop the rider standings by 35 wins over the second-place Garcia.

Dominguez has enjoyed 35 multiple-win days from 68 cards, including 10 three-win days and 2 four-win afternoons. He missed getting a third win on Thursday by a head in race 8. Dominguez has not had two consecutive inner-track cards without at least one victory.

While naturally pleased to have achieved leading-rider status, Dominguez isn't satisfied too easily.

"I'm very hard on myself, I expect to win every race, therefore every day is very demanding," Dominguez, 31, said Thursday between races. "That hasn't changed this year from previous years. The only thing that has changed . . . is [leading] the standings."

Dominguez said he enjoys pressure situations and admits he found himself becoming too complacent at times this winter.

"I found myself a couple of times feeling a little too comfortable, and I don't like that feeling. I kind of like to feel that pressure," he said. "I think that's what keeps me competitive."

Dominguez said he begins feeling pressure "as soon as I get beat."

Though Dominguez likely could do quite well if he rode in New York full-time, he said Thursday he will likely return to Delaware Park when that meet opens on April 19. Dominguez, who has a wife and two young children, said he may make the permanent move to New York in 2009. He said he plans to ride at Saratoga this summer, something he did last year.

"I absolutely love riding in New York, it doesn't get any better than New York racing," he said.

Dominguez will be traveling over the next few weeks. On Sunday, when Aqueduct is dark due to the Palm Sunday holiday, he will be at Oaklawn Park to ride Eight Belles for trainer Larry Jones in the Grade o Honeybee Stakes.

Dominguez's final day of riding on the inner track will be March 22. Following that day's races, he will head to Italy to visit his sister, then move on to Dubai where he will ride A.P. Arrow in the Dubai World Cup and Better Talk Now in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Little Belle points to Ashland

Little Belle, winner of the Busher Stakes here on Feb. 24, will be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 5, her connections said Thursday.

A daughter of A.P. Indy, Little Belle has won her last two starts and appears to have markedly improved upon stretching out around two turns. The Ashland, like the Busher, is run at 1 1/16 miles.

"She probably wants to go two turns," said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, noting that the Grade 2, $150,000 Comely here on April 12 is a one-turn mile. "The further, the better. She's well-bred, it's Darley and it's their home base."

Little Belle has run three times around two turns, recording two wins and a second. Overall, she has a record of 2-1-1 from 5 career starts.

Successful Affair one to beat

Successful Affair, a multiple open stakes winner, heads a field of seven entered in Saturday's $65,000 Instant Friendship Stakes for New York-bred colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles.

Successful Affair won the Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox in 2006 and finished second to Nite Light in those same races in 2007. In his only start this year, Successful Affair won a starter handicap at 1 1/8 miles over the inner track.

Successful Affair should have ample speed to run at with stablemates Jacks Express and Storm Boot Gold in the field. R Clear Victory, another speedy gelding trained by Steve Asmussen, is in the field.

Magical Forest beats 1-2 shot

Magical Forest, the longest-priced horse in a field of five, rallied from last under Alan Garcia to win the $64,950 Spicy Award Stakes by a half-length over 1-2 favorite Accredit on Thursday.

It was the second straight victory for Magical Forest, a son of Forest Camp trained by Joey DeMola and owned by Paraneck Stable. He covered six furlongs in 1:10.51 and returned $29.

* Golden Dawn, winner of the Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Feb.o16, worked four furlongs in 49.50 seconds Thursday morning over Belmont Park's training track. She will skip next weekend's Distaff Handicap to point for the Grade 2, $150,000 Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 19.