Reigning Eclipse champions Ramon Dominquez and Todd Pletcher once again dominated the New York Racing Association circuit in 2011, with Dominguez capturing his third straight NYRA riding title and Pletcher repeating as top trainer.
Dominquez, 35, capped 2011 with his 321st NYRA victory on New Year’s Eve at Aqueduct Racetrack, well ahead of runner-up Cornelio Velasquez, who finished the year with 193 winners. Javier Castellano was third with 170 victories.
In 2011, Dominguez set a NYRA record for consecutive winners when he won seven straight races Dec. 14-15 at Aqueduct. On June 5 at Belmont Park, he became the first jockey to win six races on a single NYRA card since Shaun Bridgmohan accomplished that feat at Aqueduct Feb. 15, 1998. Dominguez had two five-win days during the year, Jan. 8 and Nov. 24, and rode four winners on a single card seven times.
Additionally, Dominguez led the nation’s riders in earnings for the second straight year with $20,264,822. New York mainstay John Velazquez finished second in purses earned nationally with $18,622,964, while Castellano was third among U.S. riders with $15,675,977.
All but 27 of Dominguez’s victories came in New York and included grade I wins in the Woodward and Beldame with Havre de Grace, the Flower Bowl Invitational with Stacelita, and the Spinaway with Grace Hall. He also won his second Breeders’ Cup event, taking the Grey Goose Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs with Hansen.
“I am very pleased with the way the year went,” said Dominguez, who lives in Floral Park, N.Y. with his wife, Sharon, and sons Alexander and Matthew. “Winning the Woodward with Havre de Grace was very special to me, and I was very happy also to win a Breeders’ Cup race.”
Pletcher had another outstanding year in New York with 118 winners, 33 more than runner-up Rudy Rodriguez. His 24 NYRA stakes wins included grade I victories in the Travers with Stay Thirsty , the Ogden Phipps with Awesome Maria, the Prioress with Her Smile, the Ballerina with Hilda's Passion, and the Mother Goose with Buster's Ready. Pletcher also led the nation in earnings with $17,186,956.
Flying Zee Stables, now headed by Viane Lizza following the death of her husband Carl on July 8, won its second leading owner title in New York with 59 winners. The stable, perennially among the top 10, was leading owner in New York in 2004.