Game in the stretch, Lakland Farm’s 3-year-old Unbridled Command (Master Command) upset the 105th running of the $150,000, Grade 3 Saranac on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Race course at odds of 10-1, while giving jockey Ramon Dominguez his sixth winner of the day and 66th victory at the Saratoga meet, a new record. Three of Dominguez’s victories on the day came courtesy of Empire-breds.
Breaking cleanly from post three of ten, Dominguez spotted Unbridled Command in fifth position, while Sky Ring struck the front and opened up six lengths on the field, streaking through ambitious early fractions of 22.21 and 46.35.
Continuing to race comfortably at the rail in midpack, more than ten lengths behind the freewheeling leader, Unbridled Command began to move on the far turn, split horses and, after being set down for the drive, took over the lead at the three-sixteenths marker.
Sky Ring fought back with determination to the wire, but Unbridled Command dug in and secured the victory in his stakes debut by one-half length. The final time for the 1 1/8 miles on the firm inner turf course was 1:46.54. [VIDEO]
Dominguez recorded three straight wins aboard New York-breds to approach, tie and eclipse the previous mark of 65* wins by a jockey in a single Saratoga season set by Hall of Famer John Velazquez in 2004 (later adjusted to 64 when one of his mounts was disqualified from a victory following the conclusion of the meet). Dominguez’s fourth winner on Sunday was Shakeira (Freud) in race seven, and the record-tying ride came in race eight aboard Temper in Command (Master Command).
After the Saranac triumph, Unbridled Command’s trainer Tom Bush first acknowledged Dominguez’s Saratoga landmark. “Beautiful. Fabulous. I love it! I actually think the horse would have been 15-1 or 16-1 if it wasn’t for Ramon riding. I was very fortunate to get him. You’re always in good hands in the big races when you can get the top riders, and he’s obviously the best. We were happy to get him.”
Bush added, “[Unbridled Command] has done wonderfully up here. He came out of his last race really good and had two really good works. His last work was sensational. It was as good as a horse can work. I was just hoping he had enough class to run good, and he did.”
Dominguez said of the race, “I was focusing on giving [Unbridled Command] the best ride that I could and getting the most from him. Coming to the three-eighths pole, when I was able to squeeze in between horses, he gave me a great kick.”
Dominguez acknowledged that the record was somewhere in the back of his mind as he made for home. “[When I was in the stretch] I knew I wasn’t already there, but I was excited. I said to myself, ‘win or lose, at this point, I am within a chance of breaking the record.’ It was neat. When I passed the wire, it was one of those [moments] to take a second to let all of it to sink in.”
Dominguez added, “Actually, I am having a great day. Everything is working out great. It’s one of those days when you have to pinch yourself. I’m very excited. I knew I was within five wins of tying the record. It’s something I was thinking about once in a while, especially when we are getting closer to the end. I thought we could tie the record with Johnny. If we had the chance to break it, that would have been better. I will be able to sleep good with a big smile, prepare for tomorrow with no pressure.”
Unbridled Command wound up a three-race campaign last year with a maiden-breaking score going nine panels on the turf in state-bred company at Aqueduct in November and has improved in each of his five 2012 starts. Following a pair of show finishes in back-to-back entry-level allowance races at Belmont in May, the grey colt passed through that condition by open lengths on June 23, and, prior to the Saranac bested a large second-level allowance field of state-breds in Saratoga on August 1. With a record of 4-1-2 in eight career starts he has earned $214,040.
Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds LLC in partnership with A. Lakin & Sons Inc., Unbridled Command is the most successful offspring to date of four winners produced by Unbridled Betty, an unraced daughter of Unbridled’s Song, who sold in foal to Master Command to Top Sale for $75,000 at the 2008 November Keeneland sale. Unbridled Betty is a half-sister to two stakes winners and to Astaire Step, dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Manistique (Unbridled), who earned over $1.3 million.
Unbridled Betty currently has a 2-year-old colt by Freud named Mr. Panda, who has not started, an unnamed yearling colt by Freud and a filly this year by Read the Footnotes. She was bred in the spring to Girolamo, standing his first year at stud at Sequel Stallions New York.