12/30/2011 3:57PM

Sunland: Top trainer Dominguez covets stakes honoring late brother


As a perennial leading trainer in New Mexico, Henry Dominguez has won a high volume of stakes across the state. But one meaningful race he has never been able to lay claim to is the $110,000 Albert Dominguez Memorial, which is named for his brother. That could change on Sunday. Dominguez will send out top contender Brother Louie in the 1 1/16-mile handicap that will be run at Sunland Park.

The race, which is for 4-year-olds and up bred in New Mexico, pays tribute to Henry Dominguez’s oldest brother, who died seven years ago at the age of 55. At different points of his career Albert Dominguez was a trainer, a track official, and a starter, often based at the family’s home track of Sunland.

“He was in the horse racing business all his life,” said Henry Dominguez, who is one of seven children. “We never have won this race and that’s what we’d like to do.”

Brother Louie has a good chance to make that happen. He was second by a neck in his division’s biggest offering, the $192,000 New Mexico Cup Classic, at Zia Park on Oct. 30. Brother Louie closed from farther back than usual in the one-mile race, then was overtaken late by Cross Chris Run, who returns in the Dominguez. Cross Chris Run is highweighted at 122 pounds Sunday, while Brother Louie will tote 121.

“I think he’ll run well,” Dominguez said of Brother Louie, whom he also co-owns. “He throws in a clunker now and then, but he’s getting better as he gets older. He’s more mature.”

Enrique Gomez has the mount on Brother Louie, a 5-year-old by the Green Dancer stallion Emerald Jig. The pair will break from the rail, and Brother Louie, who is seeking his first stakes win, could be closer to the pace than last time as he is fresh and will be picking up a little more ground Sunday.

Cross Chris Run has raced once since his New Mexico Cup triumph and finished third in the $110,000 Johnie L. Jamison at Sunland on Dec. 11. He was cutting back to 6 1/2 furlongs for the New Mexico-bred race, and figures to be close to the pace Sunday on the move back to two turns. Ken Tohill has the mount on Cross Chris Run for Clever Massey and trainer Joel Marr.