Top N.M. Trainer Ailing But Still Winning


By Ray Sanchez


The year 2009 was a tough one for Henry Dominguez, the overall leading trainer in New Mexico.  Dominguez has dealt with diabetes for years and had a flareup during the summer. He lost 14 pounds during that period. He hasnt regained that weight but he has regained his winning touch.

After winning 36 races at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino last winter and spring, he won only 13 at Sunray Park in Farmington and finished third in the standings. After that, he finished fourth at Ruidoso Downs, again with only 13 winners. Then he had only two winners at Albuquerque while competing there sparingly.

However, towards the end of the summer he was back on top. He won 30 races at the second biggest track in the state, Zia Park in Hobbs, and walked away with the trainer championship.


And now, hes at the biggest New Mexico track of all, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Hes already won some races and is even eyeing the $800,000 Sunland Derby in March.  He says, I already have a young prospect for the Derby and who knows what I might find between now and the Derby? Dominguez has great connections with racehorse owners in California and other parts of the country and his services are highly sought.


Is he dreaming? No. Hes already won the Sunland Derby once, although it was known as the WinStar Derby at the time. That was with Song of Navarone in 2007. Dominguez is the only El Paso-born trainer to win the race. The only other locally-based trainer to win it is Johnnie Nall, Henrys lady friend whos from Texas. She won the second running with Hi Teck Man in 2004.   Like everyone else, Dominguez is excited that the Sunland Derby is now graded. Its going to be a be a big boost for the track, bring in better horses and increase the prestige of racing in New Mexico in general. 


Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino kicked off 2010 this weekend with two stakes races, one of them, coincidentally, honoring the late brother of Henry Dominguez. Its the $100,000 Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap on Sunday. Its a mile and one sixteenth for three year and older thoroughbreds.  The other stakes race on the schedule this weekend was the $120,000 added the Shue Fly at 400 yards for registered New Mexico bred foals of 2007 on Saturday.


Live racing will continue on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays through April 20. First post time will be 12:25 p.m. until February.

In last weekends action:  The biggest race was the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park on Saturday. First Moonflash defended his title like a true champ. Despite a shaky start he fought gallantly all the way to the wire to become the first horse to win the race twice.  First Moonflash, with regular rider Alejandro Medellin, did not get out of the gates well and bobbled at the start. Favored at 3-5 odds, First Moonflash quickly got into the battle. First Moonflash held off Rylees Boy by a nose and scored his 10th win from his last 11 tries. The winning time was 19.057 seconds.

The champ earned $159,400 for owners Leslie A. and Pierre Amestoy, Jr. and Maria G. Gonzalez. Andres Gonzalez was the winning trainer.


Leslie Amestoy said, I was worried three jumps out. He seemed to stumble, but his heart came through. I am so proud of him. Its just fantastic.

Also Saturday, Huntin The Trash won the eighth running of the $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile on Saturday with Mark Villa aboard.   Trained by Carlos Sedillo, Huntin earned a $75,000 for Three H Racing LLC.


Three other stakes races were held Sunday.  Owned by Kentucky Derby winner Mark Allen the Double Eagle Ranch, Time for a Cigar, sped to victory in the $131,707 Sunland Park Winter Quarter Horse Futurity under jockey Freddie Martinez. Allen is co-owner of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.  Allen and trainer Tony Sedillo came back to sweep the days quarter horse stakes by winning the $224,407 Sunland Winter


Quarter Horse Futurity with Templar Knight under jockey Kenny Muntz. 

Stealth Cat, trained by Steven Asmussen,won the $50,000 Bold Ego Handicap at five and one-half furlongs with Luis Contreras in the saddle. Stealth Cat earned $30,000 for owner J. Kirk Robison of El Paso.




Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at or online at