Monday, December 1, 2008
Monday morning dawned crisp and clear with just a touch of a mild Santa Ana condition -- making the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Santa Anita pop out of the brilliant blue sky like a giant movie set. It was a perfect day to visit the barn area at the Arcadia racetrack, so I headed to Clockers' Corner, where I promptly ran into trainer Caesar Dominguez.
Dominguez has been having a good run at Hollywood Park, with 3 wins from 12 starts in the first half of the 40-day fall meet. I walked back to his barn with him and had an unexpected treat -- seeing Rivergrade Boy get a bath!
A $25,000 Keeneland yearling purchase, Rivergrade Boy has won more than $72,000. In his most recent start, he ran 7th in the War Chant Stakes at Hollywood Park on Thanksgiving Day. According to Dominguez, he will likely run at Hollywood Park during the final week of the meet. The son of Grand Slam is quite feisty. Dominguez warned me, "Watch out, he likes to bite!"
A native of El Paso, Texas, Dominguez grew up around the racetracks where his uncles raced Quarter Horses -- Juarez and Sunland Park. He took out his license as a Quarter Horse trainer in 1970 and became the sport's second leading trainer by number of winners. In those days, Dominguez had more than 120 head at Los Alamitos racecourse in Southern California, and was Quarter Horse Trainer of the Year in 1989.
Dominguez switched to training Thoroughbreds in 1992 and got his first graded stakes victory with Fit to Lead in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Breeders Cup Stakes at Santa Anita in 1993. He currently has a stable of about 45 runners.