Ramon Dominguez's Laurel Park homecoming party included time in the winner's circle, as he rode Harissa to victory in the $150,000, Grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares Saturday at Laurel Park.
Harissa, down from Belmont Park from the stable of Michael Hushion, sped through the seven-furlong distance in 1:23.65, finishing 21/4 lengths in front of Aspenglow, ridden by Travis Dunkelberger. Fascinatin' Rhythm finished third.
"I'd never ridden her before," said Dominguez, the 2010 Eclipse Award winner. "She advanced very nicely when I asked and after going by the leader drew off very nicely."
Dominguez, 34, called Maryland home from 2000 to 2004, winning 1,012 races at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.
Harissa was the morning-line and post-time favorite and paid $5. The exacta paid $15.60 and the triple $205.
Aspenglow, who came into the Fritchie with six straight victories, shot to the lead, running the first quarter in 22.44 and the half-mile in 45.20, maintaining her advantage until Dominguez guided Harissa out of fourth place and up to engage the leader in midstretch. Harissa muscled into the lead and drove to the finish.
"She tried very hard," Dunkelberger said. "We went faster than I would have liked early, and it caught up to us in the last 70 yards."
Saturday's victory was the third stakes score for the winner, a daughter of Afleet Alex. Last year she captured the Sunland Park Oaks for trainer David Hofmans and finished second in the Grade III Iowa Oaks and fourth in the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes before transferring to Hushion last summer. In her second start in her current barn she was third in the Grade II Indiana Oaks and won the Sleigh Ride Stakes at Parx. In 13 career starts, the 4-year-old filly has raced at 10 tracks in eight states.
Hushion captured the 2008 Fritchie with Golden Dawn.
Alma d'Oro wins Campbell
Once morning-line favorite Arson Squad was declared a race day scratch, Alma d'Oro was left to make a perfunctory tour of the racecourse to win the $75,000 John B. Campbell Handicap.
The winner, trained by Todd Pletcher, stalked long-shot Philly Bound to the far turn before easing his way by and slipping away to a 41/4-length victory in 1:53.18. Fonda Ronda Won took second, and Auctoritas completed the trifecta.
Cornelio Velasquez was aboard the son of Medaglia d'Oro as Alma d'Oro won his third stakes race in his past five starts.
"Very good trip the whole way," Velasquez said. "I just let him out a notch and he galloped to the lead. That was an easy win today."
Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds LLC owns Alma d'Oro. He paid $2.60. The exacta paid $7.40 and the triple $20.
The 5-year-old has finished in the money in 12 of 18 starts for earnings of $241,538.
Morning-line favorite Arson Squad was scratched because of a foot infection, according to Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind, who spoke with trainer Rick Dutrow.
Laurel was able to complete the nine-race card despite a high-wind warning in the region. The winds led Aqueduct to cancel after three races, and Parx and Penn National decided not to run. Winds were consistently clocked at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph.
Laurel's WinterSprint continues with a President's Day card Monday, headlined by the Grade II, $150,000 General George Handicap. First post is 12:35 p.m.