Bruce Sands and Nancy Messineo's Oscar Dominguez was able to hold off the late charge of Breeders' Cup runner up United by a neck, winning Sunday's Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup on closing day at Del Mar. The 6-year-old gelding by Zoffany raced near the rear of the field and angled out on the far turn, moving up between rivals in the stretch to grab the victory at odds of 11-1. Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Richard Baltas, Oscar Dominguez ran 1 1/2 miles over Del Mar's firm turf course in 2:28.17.
“No special instructions from the trainer,” Velazquez said. “He said 'You've seen the PPs, you know how to ride, go do it.' That's how I like it. He came away from there well and the pace was fine. He was comfortable, so I left him alone. When we hit the three-eighths (pole) we squeezed between two horses and then he took it (clapping his hands together). It sure is nice when they do that.”
Oscar Dominguez rallied from last place, gained command in deep stretch and then held off the belated challenge of even-money favored United to win by a neck. United, coming into the race after a bang-up second to Horse of the Year contender Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders' Cup Turf a month ago, rallied late under Flavien Prat to make it close, while finishing a head in front of third-place Ward'n Jerry. Cleopatra's Strike was fourth in the field of ten turf runners.
Bred in Ireland by Whisperview Trading Ltd., Oscar Dominguez began his career in Europe and broke his maiden in his fourth career start. Transferred to the United States, he evolved into a useful allowance horse in 2017 and 2018, then was claimed for $40,000 in February of this year. Baltas moved him up to graded stakes company and he ran second in both the G3 San Juan Capistrano and the G2 Del Mar Handicap. Oscar Dominguez got his first graded win in the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup to improve his overall record to 6-6-4 from 37 starts for earnings of over $420,000.
“Hall of Fame ride,” said Baltas. “This means a lot. We claimed the horse for $40,000 and he's been overachieving the whole time we've had him. Today there was enough pace for him to run at, John (Velazquez) was here to ride him and everything worked out. (On winning the meet training title) “Every year I get a little bit better horses to train. My clients have been backing me and I have a good team working for me. I've been second or third and had good meets. This year I just had a little bit better numbers and a little bit more quality of horses. It means a lot.”
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