Village News Reporter
After five consecutive races of finishing no higher than fifth, San Luis Rey Training Center six-year-old Dominant Soul won the eighth race Aug. 10 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
"He learned something today," said Paula Capestro, the owner and trainer of Dominant Soul.
The Aug. 10 race was one mile on the turf, the same as Dominant Soul's previous win at Del Mar Aug. 19, 2022. His Sept. 10, 2022 race at Del Mar was also one mile on the turf; he took an early lead and was in front after three-quarters of a mile but finished tenth. His Nov. 26 race at Santa Anita Park was 1 1/16-miles on the turf; he led from just after the start of the race to the stretch before finishing sixth.
Dominant Soul was in front during the entire 1 1/4-mile turf race Jan. 20 at Santa Anita before falling to sixth during the stretch. He had a lead during the one-mile turf contest March 25 at Santa Anita and finished sixth. He then raced July 22 at Del Mar and held second for most of that one-mile turf race before finishing fifth.
"I knew he had the speed. He couldn't control it," Capestro said. "I've been trying to get him to lay off."
During the Aug. 10 race, Dominant Soul entered the stretch half a length behind San Luis Rey four-year-old Cane Creek Road, trained by Doug O'Neill, before taking the lead in the stretch. Cane Creek Road finished fourth and Dominant Soul finished a neck in front of Derecho Dandy, who was third entering the stretch.
"He laid off the pace, which was tactical, and made a run," Capestro said.
"He settled beautiful," said jockey Jose Valdivia Jr.
Valdivia has been Dominant Soul's jockey for the horse's last nine races, and three of those have been wins. "It's always great to win for Paula. She's been a big supporter of mine," Valdivia said.
Capestro's previous win was May 6 at Santa Anita with Mitico, which gave Valdivia his 2,000th career victory.
The Aug. 10 race was for horses three years old and upward who had not won a race in 2023. Nine horses contested the race, and Dominant Soul had the outside post position.
Cane Creek Road and rider Antonio Fresu broke first. Dominant Soul and Valdivia were the second entry out of the gate.
"He broke sharp, he didn't let the leader get too far away," Capestro said.
Cane Creek Road covered the first quarter of a mile in 23.09 seconds. He had a two-length lead over Dominant Soul, who was a length in front of New York Dreams. Cane Creek Road still had a two-length lead over Dominant Soul after half a mile, which took Cane Creek Road 46.61 seconds, while New York Dreams was half a length behind Dominant Soul and a length ahead of fourth-place Derecho Dandy.
Three-quarters of a mile into the race, Dominant Soul had reduced Cane Creek Road's lead to one length. "He's going to make the leader work for it," Capestro said.
That distance took Cane Creek Road 1:10.83. Derecho Dandy had moved into third and was a length behind Dominant Soul and half a length in front of New York Dreams.
Cane Creek Road reached the stretch 1:23.05 into the race. Dominant Soul was half a length behind the leader and half a length in front of Derecho Dandy.
Dominant Soul passed Cane Creek Road in the stretch. Derecho Dandy moved into second later in the stretch and challenged Dominant Soul, who maintained the lead.
"He was able to hold him off and hold him off well," Valdivia said.
"That's a good race, the race I always wanted him to run," Capestro said. "He's got the speed to maintain that, but he doesn't have to have the lead."
Capestro noted that not needing to lead the race makes Dominant Soul a more tactical horse.
Dominant Soul had a winning time of 1:35.25. Derecho Dandy finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Light Fury, who crossed the finish line half a length ahead of Cane Creek Road.
"I just loved the ride. It was a perfect Jose Valdivia ride," Capestro said.
Dominant Soul was foaled in Kentucky April 7, 2017. He was sired by Dominus out of Forest Melody.
The win was the fourth in 25 career races for Dominant Soul. Three of those victories were at Del Mar including his first win July 27, 2020. "Dominant Soul likes this racetrack," Capestro said.
The $26,400 first-place share of the total $46,000 purse Aug. 10 brought Dominant Soul's career earnings to $167,651. Capestro has not yet decided whether Dominant Soul will race again during this year's Del Mar summer meet, which concludes Sept. 10. The decision will be based on how Dominant Soul recuperates from his most recent win. "We'll have to see how he comes out of it," Capestro said.