Oaklawn Barn Notes: Lone Rock Staying Local for Temperance Hill

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com or (501) 363-4305

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Trophy Presentation for the Tinsel Stakes won by Lone Rock

Photo credit: Coady Photography

Lone Rock Staying Local for Temperence Hill

Millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock is staying home.

After being considered for a race next month in the Middle East, trainer Robertino Diodoro said Lone Rock will instead be pointed to the $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes for older horses at 1 ½ miles April 2.

Diodoro decided to keep Lone Rock at Oaklawn after the gelding finished a non-threatening sixth under regular rider Ramon Vazquez in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 12. The 1 1/16-mile Razorback was Lone Rock’s possible prep for the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 26 in the United Arab Emirates.

“As the day went on that day, it got colder out, so then it got more speed biased because they couldn’t put water on the track,” Diodoro said, adding the Razorback was also “little bit short” for the gelding. “Lone Rock, Ramon said he didn’t even get a chance to get warmed up and galloped out a long way. Just unfortunate there.”

Lone Rock was coming off a three-quarter length victory over stablemate Thomas Shelby in the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 18.

Lone Rock flourished in marathon events last year, finishing second in the Temperence Hill before winning the $130,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs, $400,000 Brooklyn Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, $120,000 Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga and the $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) Nov. 6 at Del Mar in which he set a 1 5/8-mile track record (2:42.61). The Isaac Murphy and Brooklyn were all 1 ½ miles. The Birdstone was 1 ¾ miles. Lone Rock also won a 1 ½-mile allowance race at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting.

Diodoro said Lone Rock and Thomas Shelby exited the Razorback in good shape. Thomas Shelby finished second, beaten a neck by Plainsman, in a stirring stretch battle.

“Thomas Shelby ran his guts out,” Diodoro said.

Diodoro said next-race plans are pending for Thomas Shelby. The Curlin gelding, still seeking his first career stakes victory, races for M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk), Oaklawn’s leading owner the last four meetings.

“I’ve shed a few tears after a win,” said Diodoro, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020. “I don’t think I have after a loss. But that day, I was about ready to bust a few tears.”

Big Ben

Win-machine Greeley and Ben could be in line for a class hike following the 8-year-old gelding’s latest victory, his owner/trainer, Karl Broberg, said Wednesday afternoon.

Under Reylu Gutierrez, Greeley and Ben was a 1 ¾-length winner of a starter-allowance sprint for older horses last Monday, the gelding’s 12th victory in his last 13 starts. Greeley and Ben covered 6 furlongs in a sharp 1:09.60 and paid $3 as the heavy 1-2 favorite.

“He really surprised me,” said Broberg, the country’s winningest trainer in 2014-2019. “I don’t know. I’m probably going to screw it up by putting him in the Whitmore. He just deserves the chance. He always tries.”

Broberg was referring to the $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) for older sprinters March 19. Greeley and Ben had been based at Delta Downs, but Broberg said the gelding will remain at Oaklawn to prepare for a possible start in the Whitmore, which is the final major local prep for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 16. Broberg’s Oaklawn division is overseen by assistant Kevin Martin.

Broberg won a four-way shake, or blind draw, to claim Greeley and Ben for $10,000 last March at Oaklawn. The son of Greeley’s Conquest captured 11 races in 2021, including 10 for Broberg, and was North America’s co-second-winningest horse (at least one start in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Greeley and Ben had a nine-race winning streak snapped with a runner-up finish behind Just Might in the $150,000 Thanksgiving Day Classic Stakes Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds. Greeley and Ben returned to win the $75,000 Sam’s Town Stakes Jan. 8 at Delta Downs and the $75,000 Stonerside Stakes Jan. 30 at Sam Houston in his other two starts this year.

“That’s the dream,” Broberg said, referring to the Whitmore. “That’s actually why I sent him up there in that starter. If he did it the right way, I told myself I would consider it. He did it the right way.”

Overall, Greeley and Ben has a 19-5-1 record from 30 lifetime starts and earnings of $592,998.

Finish Lines

A triple Friday vaulted Francisco Arrieta into the lead in the jockey standings. Arrieta won the fifth race aboard favored Pure Silk ($7.40) for trainer Aidan Green, seventh race aboard favored Devil’s Tower ($7) for trainer Chris Hartman and the eighth race aboard Twilight Blue ($11.40) for trainer Joe Sharp. Arrieta entered Saturday with 33 victories at the meet, one more than David Cabrera. Eight-time local riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. was third with 31. … Devil’s Tower became the meet’s third three-time winner. … Cabrera had a double Friday, pushing his total to 12 over the last four racing days. Cabrera won the first race aboard Living for Today ($5.20) and the ninth race aboard favored Mrs. Beans ($6.40). Both victories were for owner/trainer Genaro Garcia. … Distance specialist and heavily favored Strong Tide ($3.80) rolled to a 10 ½-length allowance victory in Friday’s fourth race under Geovanni Franco, who added another winner later on the card. Trained by Mike Lauer, Strong Tide covered 1 ½ miles over a muddy track in 2:33.69. Strong Tide set Oaklawn’s 1 3/16-mile track record (1:56.33) in a 2 ¾-length allowance victory Jan. 9. … Millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner C Z Rocket, who was scratched from a 1-mile allowance race last Monday, has returned to San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California, co-owner Tom Kagele said in a text message Friday night, adding there is no major physical issue with the 8-year-old gelding. “Just wasn’t training the way we liked,” Kagele said. “So, we brought him home to SLR and will see if we can’t get him going.” C Z Rocket was Oaklawn’s top older male sprinter during the 2021 meeting, winning the $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes and $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). Based this season at Oaklawn with trainer Rene Amescua, C Z Rocket ran third in a Jan. 14 allowance sprint in his 2022 debut. Kagele said he isn’t sure if C Z Rocket will return to Oaklawn before the meeting ends May 8.