The last day of 2009 found Ramon Dominguez in the same place as the first—atop the jockey standings and in the winner’s circle at Aqueduct.
New York’s leading rider wrapped up his record-breaking year on the NYRA circuit by piloting a pair of winners to finish with 376 victories, 152 more than runner-up Rajiv Maragh. Dominguez, 32, won the 2009 riding titles at all three NYRA track—Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga—and his 376 winners were second only to Steve Cauthen’s 433 wins in 1977.
In 2009, his first full year of riding year-round in New York, Dominguez rode five winners on two occasions, four winners nine times, and three winners a remarkable 43 times. He also piloted the winners of more than 30 stakes including the Man o’ War (gr. I) aboard Gio Ponti and the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) with Seattle Smooth.
“It’s hard to pinpoint just one highlight,” said Dominguez, who lives near Belmont with his wife, Sharon, and their sons Alexander and Matthew. “Being able to stay ahead through my first year here in New York made me very proud and happy. It really couldn’t have worked out any better.”
In November, the Venezuelan-born rider moved into second place for most NYRA wins in a year when he rode his 341st winner to pass Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. Four riders have scored more than 300 victories in a single year at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, two of them twice. Cordero won 340 races in 1982 and 309 in 1983, while fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith brought home 330 winners in 1991 and 313 in 1993. In 2006, Eibar Coa won 303 races.
With a record of 376-268-233 from 1,560 starters in New York, Dominguez won with more than 24% of his mounts, which earned $15,338,310. Nationally, he ranked second in wins behind Russell Baze (415) and third in total purse earnings with $18,340,422 behind Garrett Gomez ($18,571,171) and Julien Leparoux ($18,560,565).
Trainer Gary Contessa won the NYRA training title for the fourth straight year with 112 victories from 967 starts, with Todd Pletcher finishing second with 89 winners from 392 starters.
Michael Repole won his first title as leading owner in New York, with Repole Stable edging Michael Dubb in victories, 51-49. Winning Move Stable, which led all owners 2006-08, was third with 46 winners.