Yonkers, NY — Trainer Lance Hudson imported five horses from New Zealand and Australia in late 2018 with the hopes of having a fresh band of competitors for Yonkers Raceway’s 2019 season. The new pacers included Betterb Chevron N, who won her first three races including the distaff feature in her latest start Feb. 1 and Letschasethedream N, who ran his streak to three wins before coming up short January 26.
The surprise of the bunch, though, has been Don Domingo N. The 7-year-old gelding has won four straight races to begin his Stateside career and will try to extend his streak to five in Saturday night’s $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway.
“I knew he had some ability, I knew he was fast, but he just seems like a horse that gets it done,” Hudson said. “I’ve got a horse that he’s training with that I like better, but he hasn’t been quite as good. He’s been OK, but he hasn’t had four wins in a row like Don Domingo N. Don Domingo N just seems to be an overachiever right now. I’ve got some talented horses in my barn. I didn’t think he was a slouch by any means, but I didn’t think at this point that he’d be 4-for-4.”
Hudson considered buying Don Domingo N after being approached by agent Peter Larkin. Despite Don Domingo N’s form in New Zealand tailing off in late 2018 with two straight eleventh-place finishes at the free for all level, Hudson saw the potential for Don Domingo N to have a successful career in the United States.
Hudson noticed Don Domingo N had been racing at distances of 2,600 to 3,000 meters and felt the American Ideal son would benefit from a turnback. In addition, Don Domingo N had been keeping company with the likes of Dream About Me and The Fixer, two of the top pacers in the Southern Hemisphere.
“An agent called me one day and told me about the horse. Basically, he went and worked him and he thought the horse had good manners and he thought he would be OK at Yonkers, so we purchased him for $63,000 landed and that’s how it all began,” Hudson said.
“He was going the distance. He was going basically 2 miles and he was racing the best over there,” Hudson continued. “He’s a horse that I don’t think is super durable. He’s a horse that’s more fit for a mile race than 2 miles. When you look back in his form, when he wasn’t going that distance, he was very competitive when he was going shorter distances.”
Don Domingo N finished final race in New Zealand October 5 and arrived in Hudson’s stable later that month. He arrived healthily and without suffering from any ailments from the long trek north, was ready to qualify in mid-December. However, with Yonkers closing for the holidays, Hudson took a conservative approach for Don Domingo N’s first United States trial.
“I knew he had some ability, but there was no other place to qualify at the time. The last week of Yonkers, he was ready, but we started him at Monticello, just a qualifier, and then raced him once just to get him a start and get him acclimated to racing in the States,” Hudson explained.
Don Domingo N finished second to Texas Terror in his qualifier and won his debut in 1:54.4 in the winner’s over at Monticello January 2. Hudson then brought Don Domingo N to Yonkers where the gelding won three straight; he took two $23,000 overnights in off-the-pace fashion before posting a pocket-sitting victory over I’m Some Graduate for $29,000 in his latest outing February 2.
“He’s basically done it about any way,” Hudson admired. “We haven’t really put him on the front even though we’ve left the car with him a little bit. He’s been first-over, he’s been third-over, and he’s sat the two-hole. He’s very versatile, that’s for sure. Whatever situation he’s in, he always seems to find a way. He just seemed like an average horse, but he always seems to get the job done no matter what he’s got to do.”
Don Domingo N will face his toughest test so far in Saturday night’s pacing feature. The competition includes last week’s Open winner Rockathon, last week’s Preferred winner Imarocknrollegend, and Anythingforlove, who will seek his third straight win from post seven off scores in 1:52.4 and 1:51.4. Mighty Mr Sharkey, Stormount Czar, Techtor Hanover, and Bellow’s Binge complete the field.
“He’s definitely in with better horses, but the horse that he beat sitting on his back, I’m Some Graduate, is a pretty decent Open horse,” Hudson said. “A lot of times at Yonkers, it’s just how the trip goes and how everything goes down, but they’ll know he’s in there.”
Although he’ unsure how good Don Domingo N is, Hudson expects to find out in the coming weeks. Saturday’s race will help determine whether Don Domingo N is nominated to the George Morton Levy Series, which closes next Friday (February 15).
“We have some options whether to put him in the Levy and that type of thing,” Hudson said. “I’m not exactly sure. We’re OK where we are with him for now. We’ll see what happens Saturday and we’ll have to make some decisions about what we’re going to do with him.”
Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.