Barn Notes 1/28/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

A full field of 12 3-year-olds was entered Sunday for Oaklawn’s 8 ½-furlong $800,000 G3-Southwest Stakes, which will anchor a 12-race card Saturday, Feb. 3, that begins with a special early first post time of 11:30 a.m. CST.

The Southwest, along with three additional stakes races on the card, was postponed one week because of winter weather. The Southwest will offer 42 qualifying points to the top five finishers (20-10-6-4-2, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Probable post time for the Southwest, the 11th race, is 4:50 p.m.

Southwest entrants from the rail out: Maycocks Bay for trainer Michael Stidham, Charleston (Jinks Fires), Magic Grant (Eddie Milligan Jr.), Otto the Conqueror (Steve Asmussen), Wynstock (Bob Baffert), Liberal Arts (Robbie Medina), Carbone (Asmussen), Common Defense (Kenny McPeek), Linebacker (Jordan Blair), Mystik Dan (McPeek), Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas) and Awesome Road (Brad Cox).

Wynstock exits a victory in the $200,000 G2-Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 16 at Los Alamitos. Baffert is seeking his record-extending seventh Southwest victory after winning its last two runnings with Newgrange in 2022 and Arabian Knight last year.

Cox has won six of Oaklawn’s last 13 Kentucky Derby points races, including the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1. Awesome Road hasn’t started since finishing fifth as the favorite in the $400,000 G2-Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs.

Maycocks Bay and Common Defense were supplemental nominees.

In addition to the Southwest, the 1 1/16-miles $250,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters and $150,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters will be run Feb. 3. Those races were also postponed one week because of winter weather. The Martha Washington offers 42 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks.

Time for Truth?

Next-race plans are pending for Time for Truth after the unbeaten 3-year-old colt’s training schedule was disrupted earlier this month because of winter weather, trainer Ron Moquett said.

Time for Truth hasn’t worked since Dec. 24, a week before debuting with a sharp 1 ¾-length victory on the second card in Oaklawn history exclusively for 2-year-olds. Time for Truth, who covered 6 furlongs in 1:10.52, received a 102 Equibase Speed Figure, highest at the meeting for a 2021 foal.

Moquett said if Oaklawn hadn’t closed for training for 11 days (Jan. 13-23), Time for Truth would have been a candidate to make his two-turn debut in a split entry-level allowance race for 3-year-olds at one mile Sunday.

“With the fact that he hasn’t been able to train much and has but one start, we felt it was better for the horse to just wait a little bit and get a breeze into him and see where we’re at,” Moquett said.

Time for Truth became the first Oaklawn winner sired by millionaire 2019 Arkansas Derby champion Omaha Beach. Owner Harry Rosenblum purchased Time for Truth for $47,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. Rosenblum sold an interest in Time for Truth shortly after his debut victory to Everett Dobson (Cheyenne Stables).

Diodoro Strikes Again

Trainer Robertino Diodoro notched his 15th career Oaklawn stakes victory when Promise Keeper captured Saturday’s one-mile $150,000 Fifth Season under Harry Hernandez.

The script was familiar, too, as Diodoro turned another high-priced older horse claim into an Oaklawn stakes winner. Diodoro, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020 and again last season, had previously accomplished that with Pioneer Spirit ($150,000 claim), Bal Harbour ($50,000) and Lone Rock ($40,000).

On behalf of Canadian owner Randy Howg, Diodoro won a two-way shake to claim Promise Keeper for $80,000 out of an 11th-place finish in a Sept. 21 allowance/optional claimer at Churchill Downs.

After a disappointing fourth-place finish in the $75,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes Dec. 15 at Remington Park, Diodoro recouped his investment as Promise Keeper ($16.20) scored a front-running half-length victory in the Fifth Season. The Constitution gelding, now 6, was a Grade 3 winner for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Promise Keeper was racing in blinkers for the first time Saturday.

“Some old back class,” Diodoro said, explaining the claim. “We’ve always liked these kind of horses. Horse never had blinkers on. Had some speed at one point in his career. Thought maybe could get the speed back into him today, with the blinkers on. The Remington race was completely thrown into the garbage. Missed the break, hung out wide. The horse had been training great.”

Diodoro, in 2020, won the second division of the $100,000 Fifth Season with Pioneer Spirit and two Oaklawn stakes with Lone Rock – $200,000 Tinsel in 2021 and $150,000 Temperence Hill in 2022. Bal Harbour won the $200,000 Tinsel in 2022.

Diodoro said Promise Keeper will be considered for a race like the $600,000 G3-Razorback Handicap Feb. 24. Promise Keeper, still with Pletcher, finished fourth in the 1 1/16-mile race for older horses in 2022.

“We’ll take it one step at a time,” Diodoro said. “But for sure, we’ll look.”

Promise Keeper won for the fourth time in 16 starts to raise his lifetime earnings to $442,610. He won the $200,000 G3-Peter Pan Stakesin 2021 at Belmont Park.

The Fifth Season was the 348th career Oaklawn victory for Diodoro – all since 2015 – and the first Oaklawn stakes victory for Hernandez, a newcomer to the 2023-2024 local riding colony. Diodoro is the 10th-winningest trainer in Oaklawn history.