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Dec 16, 2011

Japan catches Dominguez' fancy


Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - It wasn't his first time in the Land of the Rising Sun and it probably won't be the last time jockey Ramon Dominguez makes the trek across the Pacific. Dominguez and fellow rider John Velazquez are both back in America after participating in the World Super Jockeys Series last Saturday and Sunday at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan.

"I had a great time. Unfortunately, my horses didn't perform that well, but I'm always impressed with the way races are run (in Japan)," said Dominguez. "Everything is very meticulously done. I'm impressed with the whole culture. It's very clean on the streets. It's different in so many ways. You leave very impressed with how everything is so well laid out."

Dominguez, whose mounts in the World Super Jockeys Series races finished ninth, seventh, ninth, and fourth, ended in eighth-place in the 15 jockey competition. Velazquez finished fourth behind winning rider John Murtagh.

"For me, it was a totally different experience," noted Dominguez. "For one thing, they run (clockwise at Hanshin Racecourse). The horses don't have ponies or anybody to handle them in the starting gate. It's a very long post parade. You go through a gazebo or a type of run-in shed. You walk for a good five minutes or more before you go in the starting gate. (Velazquez) was very pleased, too. He liked it. It wasn't his first trip either, but it just was a very good experience."

Dominguez, last year's Eclipse Award winning jockey, had previously ridden Better Talk Now to a 12th-place finish in the Japan Cup. He apparently acquired a taste for Japanese food during that first trip.

"(The Japan Racing Association) had a big spread for us a couple of nights before the races," said Dominguez. "You can try something authentic that (natives) love, but it may not be appealing to you. It's just a different taste, but I'm always game to try different things. I really liked that. They had a ceviche-type dish. It's usually from Peru, but they had their own version and it was very, very good."

This year the veteran reinsman has won 327 times in 1,348 mounts for a leading $19,443,008. He rode Hansen to victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last month and is the regular jockey for leading female Havre de Grace.

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