Yonkers, NY — When Al-Mar-Got A Fever came to Scott DiDomenico’s barn, the trainer was skeptical. Although the 5-year-old mare built an impressive resume in the Midwest, winning 12 of 48 starts and earning $226,231 while racing primarily in the barn of Steven Carter, DiDomenico knows doing it against top competition in New York is a tougher task.
Despite his early reservations, Al-Mar-Got A Fever is 4-for-4 since entering DiDomenico’s barn and will take on open company for the first time since shipping east Friday night (June 14) in the $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway.
“She’s been a really pleasant surprise,” DiDomenico said. “Sometimes, it seems like Ohio is a little bit cheaper than what New York is. To think she was going to come out here and win four in a row and go in (1:)52 a couple of times, I’d be lying if I said that was how I forecast it.”
By Kentucky stallion Third Straight, Al-Mar-Got A Fever began her career in Kentucky Sire Stakes and finished second in the $175,000 KYSS final as a freshman. At 3, Al-Mar-Got A Fever made the Fan Hanover final with a second-place finish in her elimination and again was the runner-up in the KYSS final.
Last year at 4, Al-Mar-Got A Fever competed regularly in the distaff open ranks at Northfield Park. Although she didn’t win any of those features, she finished second or third in seven tries and was four times beaten by Feelin Red Hot, a standout of the Ron Burke stable who made the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final in April. As Al-Mar-Got A Fever grappled with Feelin Red Hot, she caught the attention of Foulk Stable.
“A buddy of mine bought her from Ohio and he had been telling me about her,” DiDomenico said. “He was watching her last fall, she raced a bunch against Feelin Red Hot; raced her tooth-and-nail a lot of times out in Ohio. Feelin Red Hot came out here and did really well. He mentioned that he was looking to buy her, he ended up getting her bought, and he sent her over.”
Since she arrived in DiDomenico’s barn, Al-Mar-Got A Fever has been perfect in four races, leading at every call while continuously stepping up in class. Her streak began in a $7,000 overnight at Harrah’s Philadelphia May 4, when she cruised in 1:53 as the 1-10 favorite with Trace Tetrick in the sulky.
“I liked her. The first time I trained her, she trained well. The first start, I got her in a cheap race at Chester and Tim wasn’t around, so Trace came over. She won pretty handy,” DiDomenico commented.
DiDomenico then brought Al-Mar-Got A Fever to Yonkers, where she wired the field at the non-winners level three times with George Brennan in tow. Her last two victories came in 1:52.4 and 1:52.3, respectively, and she recorded a four length score last out June 7.
“That’s hard to do. They were terrific,” DiDomenico said. “She beat some really quality mares. She set the tempo and you can’t say enough about her. She’s really done a good job. She’s adapted to the Yonkers racing, she’s adapted to the track and she handles it very well and that’s reassuring.”
For her efforts, Al-Mar-Got A Fever added $38,700 to her bankroll this season and will face her toughest test yet Friday night when she takes on open competition. She will start from post six as a 6-1 morning line chance. However, she will get a new driver in Joe Bongiorno as Brennan opted to drive her old rival, Feelin Red Hot, who won the $44,000 feature May 17 and will start from post seven at 5-1.
The field also includes Alexa’s Power, who won the local feature May 10 and was fourth last out in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono and starts from post four. Lispatty won the distaff feature May 3 and was sixth last out in the Betsy Ross Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia and drew post five Friday night while Golden Orchid drew the inside off a fifth-place effort in the Rainbow Blue at The Meadowlands last out. Matchmaker competitor Twinkle tuned up with a qualifier at Yonkers June 7 and landed post three. Lance Hudson’s Glenferrie Blade won her first local feature May 24, but drew post eight Friday night. Rockstar Angel completes the lineup from post two.
Although all four of Al-Mar-Got A Fever’s wins this season have come on the front end, DiDomenico doesn’t think she’s a one-dimensional horse. With plenty of early speed in the field, the trainer isn’t sure how her trip will set up.
“She doesn’t need to be (on the lead). She can win any way,” he said. “Just those races set up to where it looked like the front end was her best option, and that’s what George did. It paid off.
“If you do leave, how hard will it be to get to the front and if you take her off, who’s going to leave to make the race for you? It’s certainly a little bit tougher than what it’s been,” the trainer continued. “It’s her fourth jump up in a row. You’ve just got to play it by ear and see how it goes. It doesn’t look like there’s a shortage of early speed in there, so we’ll see.”
First post time is 6:50 p.m. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.