In Pursuit of His First Leading Rider Title
Bossier City, LA – Jockey Joel Dominguez has made the most of his three-year tenure at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
He began riding here in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug on May 22, but transitioning smoothly to the journeyman ranks. He wrapped up the Louisiana Downs meet as the third-leading rider with 66 wins, completing the year (at Delta Downs) with 83 wins and $1.1 million in purses. This year, he has already won 70 races with five more weeks remaining in the 2019 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season.
The 29-year-old rider offers his explanation on the success he is having in 2019.
“Horsemen know me a lot better now,” stated Dominguez. “I am getting greater opportunities and feeling more confident.”
One of his most special victories came on Louisiana Cup Day, Saturday,
August 3, when he won the first stakes of his career. The win came in the final feature of the afternoon, the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint aboard Diamond Cutter. The 7-year-old mare, owned by World War IV Racing, advanced steadily under Dominguez, drawing off to a 3 ½ length win in the six-furlong event. Trained by Dwight Viator, she was sent off as the seventh choice in the eight-horse field, rewarding her backers with a $23 win payout.
“I really enjoyed that race,” he said. “She was not one of the favorites, so I just wanted to do my best. She really responded and it was a great feeling to win my first stakes!”
There was only one grin bigger than the smile on the face of Dominguez, and that belonged to his agent, Don Simington.
“I broke her maiden as a 2-year-old and rode her several times when she was trained by Pam Simpson,” said Simington. “She never ran that well for me!”
Simington, one of the top riders in Texas and Louisiana for three decades, retired in 2015 after winning over 3,400 races. He has been a key factor in the success of Dominguez.
“Don has won a lot of races and has given me great advice and feedback,” explained Dominguez. “Trainers know him well and he works hard to book me on good horses.”
Dominguez was athletic as a child growing up in Durango, Mexico, playing soccer and then becoming a boxer; undefeated in his weight class. He moved to Kentucky and learned to ride under the tutelage of his brother-in-law Pablo Teutla. Dominguez galloped for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen as well as the highly respected Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.
The Harrah’s Louisiana Downs live racing season will conclude on September 25 and Dominguez is locked in a contentious battle with fellow rider Carlos Lozada, with just one win separating them. It would be the first leading rider title for Dominguez; who is supported by his wife, Janet, and two sons.
“I prefer not to think about it and put too much pressure on myself,” admitted Dominguez. “All I can do is continue to work hard and improve my skills. I have always done well getting horses out of the gate and driving to the wire. This year, I feel that I have done a better job of saving ground and getting in better position in the route races. It’s been a great season and I thank all the trainers who have given me mounts.”
Super Derby Nominations Close on Saturday, August 24
The Harrah’s Louisiana Downs racing office is busy taking nominations this week for Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 7. The card will include seven stakes, highlighted by the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby.
The top four finishers from the $60,000 Super Derby Prelude on August 3 have received invitations to return for the mile and one-sixteenth main track championship. They include winner Leader of Men, owned by Walpole Racing LLC; Trevilion, owned by Tigertail Ranch, who ran second and Paynt Battle for Norman Stables, LLC. The fourth-place finisher, Rotation stumbled out of the gate, almost unseating jockey Richard Eramia, but battled to complete the superfecta. The colt by Tapit, bred and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who won last year’s Super Derby with Limation.
The nominations do not close until Saturday, August 24, but several noted horsemen have expressed interest. Brad Cox, who won the 2017 Super Derby (run on the turf) with Mr Misunderstood, has nominated four runners. Also, Ellis Park Derby champion Gray Magician, trained by Peter Miller, has been nominated. The son of Graydar ran second in the UAE Derby (G2) before competing in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
In addition, Mary Rampellini, correspondent and handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, interviewed trainer Al Stall, Jr, who ran Prelude winner Autumn Warrior last year. Stall, who has won three previous editions of the Super Derby, has several runners in mind, including Adele B. Dilschneider‘s homebred Rescind.
A full list of nominations will be posted on Monday and the draw for the Super Derby Card will take place this Saturday, August 31.
Noon Post Set for Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 7
An early post time of 12:00 pm (Central) is planned for the Super Derby card. The program will feature the following seven stakes:
$60,000 Frank L. Brothers 3 YO & Up 1 1/16 miles (T)
$60,000 River Cities 3 YO & Up F&M 1 1/16 miles (T)
$60,000 Happy Ticket 2 YO Fillies One Mile (T)
$60,000 Sunday Silence 2 YO One Mile (T)
$300,000 SUPER DERBY (G3) 3 YO 1 1/16 miles
$60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin 3 YO LA-Bred One Mile (T)
$60,000 Elge Rasberry 3 YO Fillies, LA-Bred One Mile (T)
Super Derby Festivities Set for Saturday, September 7
Several promotions and special events are planned for Super Derby 40 so that both racing fans and families will have an enjoyable afternoon at the racetrack.
Watch and wager on the Super Derby Card in the air-conditioned comfort of the Harrah’s Club. An All You Can Eat Buffetoffering for $39.99 per person will be available, beginning at 11:00 am. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 318-752-6367. An upscale buffet, thee Super Derby 40 in the Sky, will also be available for $49.99 per person. Reservations are required: 318-752-6367.
At 10:30 am, a Jockey Meet and Greet and Autograph Signing will take place in the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs main entrance area. A photo of the riders will be available for $5.00 with the proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).
Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 11:00 am in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer detailed analysis of the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby as well as their selections for each of the races on the Super Derby card.
Also beginning at 11:00 am, a Children’s Area will open on the Racing Apron. Face Painting is available for an additional charge. Children can join in the fun with the Super Derby Stilt Walkers and Hula Hoop Stars! Food Trucks from across the region will be serving up great local bites for purchase.
Also at 12:00 pm, registration begins for the Super Derby Ladies Hat Contest. Hats will be judged in three categories: Spirit of Louisiana, Classic and Most Original. The winners will receive $100 cash.
The Food Truck Face-Off will take place after the 3rd race. Competitors will have five minutes to scarf down some of the yummiest foods available for purchase on the Racing Apron. Seven popular local celebrities and three participants from the crowd will compete to win, not only bragging rights, but $250 in cash.
Super Derby Festival 40 Golf Tournament Set for August 29
On Thursday, August 29, the Super Derby Festival 40 Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Northwood Hills Golf Clubin Shreveport, Louisiana.
The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and The Backside Benevolence Fund, which provides assistance to the Louisiana racing community and backstretch workers. It serves as one of the special events saluting the annual Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, the marquee race of the Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season, which takes place on Saturday, September 7.
Sign in for the event’s Four Person Scramble kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with tee off at 10:30 a.m. The fee is $80 per person or $320 for a four-person team. The fee includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and Super Derby t-shirt/cap.
Attendees can register in person in the Louisiana Downs Racing office, or by mail. Checks should be payable to The Backside Benevolence Fund and mailed to: Jennifer Sokol, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, 8000 East Texas Street, Bossier City, Louisiana, 71111.
The deadline for registration is August 22. For further information, please contact Jennifer Sokol at (318) 741-2512.
Labor Day Festivities Set for Monday, September 2
Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will present a fun-filled Labor Day program with live Thoroughbred races and the always popular Wiener Dog Races on Monday, September 2nd. The fun starts at 11:00am. The first Wiener Dog race begins at 12pm with the Championship Race at approximately 2:00 pm. There will also be race heats for children. Proceeds to benefit K9 Karma Service Dogs. Families can enjoy a children’s area including a petting zoo (free admission) located on the Racing Apron. Face Painting will be available for an additional charge.
Food Trucks from across the region will be serving up great local bites for purchase.
About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.