VA-BREDS DOMINUS, IN THE ROUGH WIN STAKES

DOMINUS (NYRA Photo)

Virginia-bred Dominus and former Virginia-bred Champion In The Rough both won stakes over the Labor Day weekend.

Dominus, by Smart Strike, out of Cuando by Lord At War (ARG) had never raced on turf, but his pedigree strongly suggested that he’d love the surface. Trainer Todd Pletcher took the hint, tried the lightly-raced four-year-old in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, and Dominus dominated wire to wire.

Owned by George Bolton, Stonestreet Stables and Spendthrift Farm, Dominus was sent off as the 9-5 second choice in his turf debut, and his second start off a nearly year-long layoff. Data Link had the form in the book and ranked as the even-money favorite, but as it turned out, he couldn’t reel in the winner.

Dominus had the advantage of being the controlling speed, as well as an eight-pound concession from 122-pound highweight Data Link. Cruising to the front with Julien Leparoux, Dominus got away with comfortable fractions of :24 1/5, :48 3/5 and 1:12 1/5. Guys Reward sat in second, but didn’t apply any pressure, and Data Link was perched closer than usual in third.

Turning into the stretch, Dominus found an impressive change of gear to spurt away, and his sudden injection of pace dealt his rivals the lethal blow. Although Data Link was trying his utmost, he couldn’t outkick Dominus, who reached the mile split in 1:34 2/5. The favorite inched a bit closer through the final sixteenth, but at no point did Data Link pose a threat to the front runner, who had 1 1/4 lengths to spare in the end.

Dominus completed 1 1/16 miles on the firm Mellon Turf in 1:40 1/5 to earn his second career stakes victory, following last year’s Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. The dark bay ridgling returned $5.70, $2.90 and $2.50.

Dominus was bred by the late Edward P. Evans and now sports a record of  8-4-2-1, $439,329.

IN THE ROUGH (Gulfstream Park)
Former Va-bred champ, In the Rough, narrowly beaten in a pair of turf stakes earlier this season, didn’t have to settle for second best in Saturday’s $62,300 Forever Together Stakes at Delaware Park.
Under Alex Cintron, the five-year-old mare rallied along the rail in the stretch to score by 1 1/4 lengths in the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. She completed the distance over firm turf in 1:37.58 for her first win since last October. Although 0 for 6 this season prior to Saturday, In the Rough had missed by a head in the Dahlia at Pimlico in April and surrendered the lead in deep stretch to lose by 1 1/4 lengths in the restricted Brookmeade at Colonial Downs in July.

A daughter of Stormy Atlantic trained by Monmouth Park-based Kelly Breen and owned by George and Lori Hall, In the Rough is now 5 for 29 lifetime with earnings of $313, 445.

In the Rough was bred by Lazy Lane Farms.