The 4-year-old Smart Strike ridgling, who got an eight-pound break in the weights from the favorite, went to the lead a few strides out of the gate and galloped through unpressured fractions of 24.29, 48.63 and 1:12.26 over the firm turf. Accelerating as he came out of the far turn, Dominus quickly opened up on his five rivals and was never seriously threatened by Data Link’s late run.
Dominus’s winning time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:40.32.
“We kind of anticipated he would be on the lead,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Dominus for George Bolton, Spendthrift Farm and Stonestreet Stables. “The fractions were comfortable and he relaxed nicely. Things went just like we hoped.”
The victory was the second in as many starts this year for Dominus, who last year won the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park while in the care of trainer Steve Asmussen. Given time off after finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop last summer, Dominus returned on August 4 at Saratoga with an easy 4 ¼-length victory in an optional claimer on the dirt.
“He’s still obviously a very nice dirt horse,” said Pletcher. “It puts us in a position to pursue a lot of options.”
Sent off as the 9-5 second choice, Dominus returned $5.70 for a $2 win bet and earned $150,000. Overall, he is 4-2-1 from eight career starts with a bankroll of $439,329.
Data Link, the multiple graded-stakes winner from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, was 1 ¼ lengths in front of third-place finisher Sky Blazer, who got off to a slow start. Following him under the wire were Guy’s Reward, Queen’splatekitten and Prince Will I Am. Crimson China and main track only entrant Alma d’Oro were scratched.