Coach Robertino Diodoro’s run to 3,000 career wins continued Saturday at Oaklawn. The theme was more or less the same – older horses moving up the class ladder in two-round events.
Diodoro’s two victories included a lead score from Bal Harbour, which held Grade 2 winner Last Samurai by a neck in the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes for ages 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles. The Tinsel arrived about 30 minutes after Diodoro won race eight, a 1 1/16 mile conditional allowance, with Disc Jockey. The scholarship was $104,000.
Bal Harbor ($13.60) was making his third start since Diodoro claimed him for $50,000 in a blowout 1 1/8-mile win Sept. 5 at Saratoga. Disc jockey is 3 for 3 since Diodoro claimed him for $25,000 on a Sept. 23 win over a mile at Los Alamitos.
Diodoro’s double came almost exactly a year after his biggest claim to fame, Lone Rock, won the Tinsel by three-quarter lengths over stablemate Thomas Shelby. After picking up Lone Rock for $40,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs, the now 7-year-old gelding thrived in 2021 when he was moved to races over much longer distances, specifically 1 ½ mile , 1 5/8 mile and 1 ¾ mile. He became a Grade 2 winning multiple millionaire.
“I love those kind of horses, old class horses that go far,” Diodoro said in Larry Snyder’s winner’s circle after the Bal Harbor win. “I think my grandfather and my father give me a lot because again they were little coaches, but they always, especially my grandfather, wanted a marathon runner. You have to have distance .
Diodoro also had a winner on Saturday at Turf Paradise in Arizona, taking his North American career total to 2,985, according to Equibase, the official race data collection organization. Only 35 coaches, through Saturday, had reached 3,000 North American career victories (United States and Canada), according to Equibase. Diodoro was Oaklawn’s main coach in 2020 and has a home minutes from the track.
“I would like it (3,000e victory) to be here, for sure,” Diodoro said earlier this month.
Despite losing two major clients earlier this year – four-time Oaklawn owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk) and Cypress Creek Equine – Diodoro surged this fall after claiming heavily, coast to coast. another, on behalf of recent additions John Holleman and Jerry Caroom.
Diodoro and Caroom, a retired Hot Springs businessman, were 1-for-1 together at the Del Mar fall meeting and 7-for-7 at Remington Park, which closed Saturday. Caroom owns Disc Jockey, a 5-year-old son of 2012 Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister.
Holleman owns Bal Harbor and races Lovely Ride, winner of the $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes on Dec. 10 in Oaklawn, in partnership. Lovely Ride represented Oaklawn’s first victory for Holleman, a lawyer from Little Rock, Ark., who started his first horse in November 2021 at Churchill Downs.
“As a stable we have gone down a lot on the numbers and then John comes more into the stable and into the game,” Diodoro said. “So we’re trying to build a stable and get John to ride. It was getting a little stressful because again the claims game got so tough all over the country. To be ready for here, I was starting to sweat a little.
Diodoro said Bal Harbor will be directed to the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. Lone Rock finished sixth in last year’s Razorback before returning to marathons.
Lone Rock recently resumed training in Florida, Diodoro said, and is expected to arrive early next month in Oaklawn. Diodoro said Lone Rock doesn’t surface until later in the Oaklawn meeting and a targeted run is the $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes on April 2. Lone Rock won the Temperence Hill 1½ mile last season. He finished second in his inaugural run in 2021, which marked his return to the stakes company.
Saturday’s victory was the seventh in 34 lifetime starts for Bal Harbor and increased his earnings to $870,880. Bal Harbor was coming off a third-place finish in the $350,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) at 1 5/8 miles on Nov. 4 at Keeneland. Lone Rock won the race in record time last year in Del Mar.
The Tinsel marked the fourth career victory and the first in more than four years for Bal Harbour. He also finished second, beaten by half a length, in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles in 2019 at Saratoga for future Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Bal Harbor is by First Samurai.
“It’s easy to say now; I thought it was a good claim before the race,” Diodoro said. “I was really excited. I told a friend of mine that the claims game has gotten so tough, it’s rare that you file a claim, I don’t care if it’s for $20,000 or $80,000 $, and you’re like, ‘Oh, please, oh, please, because I want this horse. It was one of those horses and I’m not just saying that, now that it’s turned out. He was one of those horses that I was really looking forward to getting. And then, of course, the day we claimed him, he hit a muddy track, which he loves the mud, and won by seven or eight lengths. At first, even if it didn’t put money in John’s pocket or mine, it did you good at the time that this horse still had a run in it. him, right?”
Diodoro entered Sunday with six wins through the first five days of the 2022-23 Oaklawn meeting and tied with Ron Moquett at the top of the coaching standings. Bal Harbor represented the 285e Career Oaklawn win for Diodoro, 48, who began wintering in Hot Springs in 2015. He has 12 career Oaklawn wins.
Moquett recorded his 300e Oaklawn career win on December 10.
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