01/20/2007 12:00AM

Liquor Cabinet rolls by nine


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Liquor Cabinet captured the first stakes victory of his career Saturday, and the way he won the Grade 3, $109,800 Aqueduct Handicap suggests there may be more in his future.

Taking control from the start, Liquor Cabinet romped to a nine-length victory in the Aqueduct, finishing the last sixteenth of a mile under a hold from jockey Ramon Dominguez. Angliana rallied to get up for second by a neck over Naughty New Yorker. Angliana survived a stewards' inquiry and jockey's objection from Eibar Coa, who rode fourth-place finisher Shuffling Maddnes, for alleged interference in the stretch.

The Aqueduct proved to a coming out party for Liquor Cabinet, a 6-year-old son of Hennessy. Expected to sit third or fourth early, Liquor Cabinet broke on top, surrendered the lead briefly to the slow-starting Silver Prospector, then took over from that one early on the backside.

Without any prompting from Dominguez, Liquor Cabinet - despite wearing aluminum pads on both front feet - began to pull away entering the far turn, opened up a 12-length lead at the eighth pole, and crossed the wire while being eased up. Liquor Cabinet, owned and bred by Ed Evans, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.66 over a fast inner track and returned $4.40 as the favorite.

"My horse broke extremely sharp, and [Silver Prospector] stumbled pretty good," said Dominguez, who won three races one day after winning five. "It wasn't by choice that I found myself in front. He just basically took me there, and he just led all the way and proved that he was the best."

It was the fifth win from 12 starts for Liquor Cabinet, and his second straight since returning from an eight-month layoff and being turned over to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

"I've been really liking this horse over the last month," Dutrow said from Florida, where he watched the race on television. "Over the last few weeks, he's changed into a different horse. To be honest, I really thought he could win like that. His feet have been bugging him a little, but he really brought his game."

Dutrow said Liquor Cabinet could make his next start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap or the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Both races are on March 3.

* In another failed attempt to become the first jockey over 70 years old to win a Thoroughbred race, Frank Amonte Sr., 71, finished 10th of 11 aboard Eightyninecentsday in Saturday's nightcap.