SARATOGA SPRINGS - Jockeys risk everything every time they get on a horse. Ramon Dominguez is a prominent reminder of that.
Last year, Dominguez rode a record 68 winners at Saratoga and set a national earnings mark of $25.58 million. Then he suffered brain trauma in a mid-January spill at Aqueduct and announced his retirement June 13.
Dominguez recently spoke with New York Racing Association analyst Richard Migliore about how hard it is to deal with the abrupt end of a 4,985-victory career. No one knows that better. A neck injury ended the career of Migliore, a Babylon native, in 2010 after 4,450 winners.
Sunday at Saratoga, Dominguez received the 2012 Eclipse Award, his third in a row, as the country's top jockey. He missed the Jan. 19 ceremony in Florida because he went down the day before. He also received the Mike Venezia award for extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship, honoring a popular rider who died on the track in a fall at Belmont Park in 1988.
Venezia's widow, Helene, presented the trophy in a crowded winner's circle that included many riders. "I'm so proud and humbled to receive the Venezia award," Dominguez said. NYRA president and CEO Christopher Kay gave a $15,000 check in Dominguez's name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which the 36-year-old Venezuelan has championed for many years.
Dominguez received an ovation before trainer Mike Hushion saluted him. "He was always prepared and all business, and that came through in his riding," Hushion said in a video tribute. "Besides being the Babe Ruth of racing, he's as fine a man as I've ever met."
3-year-olds make plans
A rematch between Travers winner Will Take Charge and Moreno, second by a nose, could occur in the $1-million, 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 21 at Parx. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he and owner Willis Horton also discussed the $1-million, 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont.
Trainer Eric Guillot plans to run his gelding at Parx. He also said Moreno competed Saturday with a large abscess near his throat. Guillot said it didn't affect his performance, that he was doing well and being treated with a topical antibacterial.
Shug McGaughey said third-place Orb probably will race in the Gold Cup but didn't eliminate the Pennsylvania Derby or Indiana Derby. Todd Pletcher "had no firm plans" for Palace Malice, fourth after a brutal trip, and Verrazano, seventh as the 8-5 favorite.
Royal Delta romps
Mike Smith put two-time champion Royal Delta on the lead on the backstretch, and the 5-year-old mare drew away to a 4 1/2-length win over Authenticity in the Grade I Personal Ensign Handicap. She paid $3.10 after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.34 for her 12th win in 20 starts for trainer Bill Mott. She earned $360,000 for Besilu Stable, raising her bankroll to $4,611,128.