Sweetnorthernsaint returned to the races Thursday for the first time since his runner-up finish in last May's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), easily outstepping two rivals to win a seven-furlong optional allowance test on the main track.The son of Sweetsouthernsaint was sent to post as the 1-20 favorite. Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Sweetnorthernsaint bobbled at the start but quickly recovered and took the lead away from Terrific Tom at about 5 1/2 furlongs from the finish line. Dominguez allowed his charge to travel wide around the far turn and into the stretch, then let him roll home to an easy hand-ridden score in 1:23.73. They crossed under the finish line 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Terrific Tom and galloped out another furlong. Itsallaboutyoulou finished third. Eight horses originally entered the race when it was carded, but trainers of five horses scratched -- four Thursday morning and one Saturday. Sweetnorthensaint paid $2.10."I had no clue how fast we went," Dominguez said. "I was hoping we didn't go too slow but he got something out of it even though he wasn't pushing himself a whole lot."Mike Trombetta trains the 3-year-old gelding for owners Joseph Balsamo and Ted Theos. After the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the Laurel-based Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner spent time on the conditioner's Baltimore County farm this summer. He returned to training on Aug. 25. He had four official works leading up to his return."I wanted to get a race under him and I didn't want a big one today," Trombetta said. "He isn't ready for that. I didn't want to do too much. He worked four times and then he got this under him. Now I am going to see how he trains next week. Hopefully this didn't take anything out of him -- I don't think it did -- and then we'll move on. This was my plan and it went well. I am happy with it. It was what we wanted to see."
Sweetnorthernsaint has won four of seven this year, with six in the money finishes, for nearly $600,000.