Jockey Joel Dominguez has made the most of his three-year tenure at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
He began riding here in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug on May 22, but transitioning smoothly to the journeyman ranks. He wrapped up the Louisiana Downs meet as the third-leading rider with 66 wins, completing the year (at Delta Downs) with 83 wins and $1.1 million in purses. This year, he has already won 70 races with five more weeks remaining in the 2019 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season.
The 29-year-old rider offers his explanation on the success he is having in 2019.
“Horsemen know me a lot better now,” stated Dominguez. “I am getting greater opportunities and feeling more confident.”
One of his most special victories came on Louisiana Cup Day, Saturday, August 3, when he won the first stakes of his career. The win came in the final feature of the afternoon, the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint aboard Diamond Cutter. The 7-year-old mare, owned by World War IV Racing, advanced steadily under Dominguez, drawing off to a 3 ½ length win in the six-furlong event. Trained by Dwight Viator, she was sent off as the seventh choice in the eight-horse field, rewarding her backers with a $23 win payout.
“I really enjoyed that race,” he said. “She was not one of the favorites, so I just wanted to do my best. She really responded and it was a great feeling to win my first stakes!”
There was only one grin bigger than the smile on the face of Dominguez, and that belonged to his agent, Don Simington.
“I broke her maiden as a 2-year-old and rode her several times when she was trained by Pam Simpson,” said Simington. “She never ran that well for me!”
Simington, one of the top riders in Texas and Louisiana for three decades, retired in 2015 after winning over 3,400 races. He has been a key factor in the success of Dominguez.
“Don has won a lot of races and has given me great advice and feedback,” explained Dominguez. “Trainers know him well and he works hard to book me on good horses.”
Dominguez was athletic as a child growing up in Durango, Mexico, playing soccer and then becoming a boxer; undefeated in his weight class. He moved to Kentucky and learned to ride under the tutelage of his brother-in-law Pablo Teutla. Dominguez galloped for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen as well as the highly respected Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.
The Harrah's Louisiana Downs live racing season will conclude on September 25 and Dominguez is locked in a contentious battle with fellow rider Carlos Lozada, with just one win separating them. It would be the first leading rider title for Dominguez; who is supported by his wife, Janet, and two sons.
“I prefer not to think about it and put too much pressure on myself,” admitted Dominguez. “All I can do is continue to work hard and improve my skills. I have always done well getting horses out of the gate and driving to the wire. This year, I feel that I have done a better job of saving ground and getting in better position in the route races. It's been a great season and I thank all the trainers who have given me mounts.”
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