12/30/2010 4:08PM

Dominguez would prefer to see Nicole H relax in Interborough

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Barbara D. Livingston
Nicole H may change tactics as the heavy favorite in the Interborough Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though pleased that Nicole H won last month’s Garland of Roses Handicap, jockey Ramon Dominguez was somewhat disappointed by the manner in which it was accomplished.

Hoping to get Nicole H to relax, Dominguez instead found himself and his filly dueling for the early lead. Nicole H was simply too good for the competition that day and drew away for a 2 1/2-length victory. Saturday, Dominguez may try to employ different tactics while hoping for the same result when Nicole H meets four opponents in the $65,000 Interborough Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track.

The Interborough, run at six furlongs, is one of three stakes on Saturday’s card, but will go as race 3 – thus keeping it out of the pick-six and late pick four – due to the small field and overwhelming favorite.

Nicole H, trained by Mike Hushion, will break from the same post 2 she had when she won the Garland of Roses. Early in the race, Dominguez guided Nicole H to the outside of pacesetter and second choice Tar Heel Mom. Nicole H dragged Dominguez up on the pace, dueling through fractions of 23.04 seconds and a half-mile in 45.66, before drawing off with two cracks of Dominguez’s left-handed whip in the stretch.

“I committed to try to get her to the outside, therefore I pressed her a little early and she got a little aggressive with me,’’ Dominguez said. “I felt like she was too much on the bridle, too on the muscle and too close to the pace. She still ran fast – it was a good group of fillies. I would like to see her settle a little more.’’

With Meese Rocks on the rail and Bob’s Dylan on her outside, Nicole H could find herself stalking one or both of those fillies. Meese Rocks bobbled at the break in the Garland of Roses and was farther off the pace than usual, but did rally to get second. Nicole H and Meese Rocks will both carry 120 pounds, a five-pound weight shift in favor of Meese Rocks from the Garland of Roses.

Bob’s Dylan has won four of her last five starts, all at Finger Lakes. She, Purrfect Bluff, and Quiet Mover, a stablemate of Meese Rocks, were all supplemented to this field.

Eminent Tale stretches out in Champagneforashley

The main attraction on Saturday’s card may be the $65,000 Count Fleet Stakes for open company 3-year-olds, but the $60,000 Champagneforashley, restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds may have come up a more interesting race.

While the Count Fleet has only one stakes winner among its seven-horse field, the Champagneforashley has three stakes winners in its nine-horse field. Eminent Tale, a son of Read the Footnotes, was a dominant 7 3/4-length winner of the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes on Nov. 17. That race was at six furlongs while the Champagneforashley is run around two turns at a mile and 70 yards.

Dominguez, who rode Eminent Tale in that stakes victory, is riding Sky Music, whom Dominguez rode to victory in the Restoration Stakes on Nov. 18. That horse came back in 18 days and finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the Damon Runyon. With four weeks between races, he is likely to rebound with a better effort.

Beau de Beaupre won the Damon Runyon by a half-length over Artie Luvsto Party with Preachintothedevil another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Beau de Beaupre’s final time for the Damon Runyon was 1.22 seconds slower than that of Queens Harbor, who won the East View for fillies earlier on the Dec. 5 card.

Preachintothedevil, a son of Pulpit, may have regressed when third in the Damon Runyon after rolling to a 7 1/4-length debut victory in an off-the-turf maiden race over the main track on Nov. 6.

Prado to reunite with Frieze in Florida

Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado will ride the winter at Gulfstream and has retained former agent Bob Frieze to represent him. Prado and Frieze were together for 10 years before they parted ways at the end of November 2009. Prado had been represented since then by Jim Riccio Jr., who opted to remain in the Northeast to be with his family.

Prado, who won his 6,431st career race Thursday – which places him 10th all-time – was considering staying in New York for the winter. But he got a call from Carl Lizza of Flying Zee Stables, who recently purchased a filly from Chile that he wants Prado to ride, but only if Prado was going to be in south Florida.

“I find myself in the same scenario I was 11 years ago when Steve Rushing stayed in Maryland when I came to New York,’’ Prado said Thursday. “I asked Bob what he was doing and he said nothing. We’ve been lucky together. I brought him out of retirement.’’

Prado, 43, was the Eclipse Award-winning rider in 2006, the year he won the Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro.

Prado, who led the country in wins in 1997 with 535, has ridden 115 winners in 2010, his lowest total since 1987.

Popular calendars on sale Saturday

The always popular New York Racing Association calendar will be available for purchase on Saturday. The calendar costs $2 and there will be a limit of five per customer while supplies last.

This year’s calendar includes a unique feature called Quick Response (QR) code for each month which, when scanned with a Smartphone directly links to the race replay for that month’s featured horse and/or race.

Calendars will be available for purchase at both Aqueduct and Belmont, which offers simulcasting at its first-floor Belmont Café. At Aqueduct, the calendars will be sold at the south end of the first floor of the clubhouse.

Perfect day for Englehart

Trainer Chris Englehart went 3 for 3 on Thursday’s card and is now 5 for 7 at Aqueduct since a quarantine of his barns at Belmont Park, Finger Lakes, and his farm in upstate New York was lifted on Dec. 8. The barns were placed under quarantine after a horse Englehart trained died of equine herpesvirus.

Englehart won the first with Who’s the Cowboy ($20), the third with Smokin Artie’s Gal ($3.30), and the eighth with Budge Man ($11). He also had Cherokee Trick entered, but scratched him out of the fifth race.

◗ This year’s Gallant Fox, which had been scheduled for Friday, was not carded because there were insufficient entries. Only 10 horses were nominated to the 1 5/8-mile race, and only two were entered. The Gallant Fox was first run in 1939.