Trainer Robertino Diodoro said in November that Lone Rock’s 2022 racing schedule could include another shot in Grade 1 company after the gelding became energized in marathon events last year.
Diodoro has that Grade 1 race circled and a familiar path to try and get there.
Diodoro said Friday morning that Lone Rock, a millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner, is pointing for the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 12 at Oaklawn. If all goes well in the 1 1/16-mile race, Diodoro said the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 26 in the United Arab Emirates will be on the table. The Dubai World Cup is 2,000 meters, or about 1 ¼ miles.
The Razorback would be Lone Rock’s first start at less than 1 1/8 miles since an allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles in his 2021 debut last February at Oaklawn.
“I don’t know if we have to win it,” Diodoro said. “We are shortening up to a mile and a sixteenth in the Razorback. As long as he shows up again and runs like he’s been running, then we’re going to give it (Dubai World Cup) some serious consideration, for sure.”
Gun Runner launched his 2017 Horse of the Year campaign with a runaway victory in the Razorback before finishing second in the Dubai World Cup in his next start. Last year’s Razorback winner, Mystic Guide, won the Dubai World Cup in his next start.
Lone Rock, a 7-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, began his racing career racing with John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, among the most successful owners in Oaklawn history, and now-retired trainer Will VanMeter. Lone Rock ran 10th in the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles in 2017 at Keeneland and closed his 2018 campaign with a victory in Remington Park’s $75,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards.
Lone Rock spent much of the next two years in the allowance or high-end claiming ranks before Diodoro re-claimed the gelding for $40,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs and targeted races beyond the American classic distance (1 ¼ miles) in 2021.
Lone Rock won 7 of 9 starts last year, including the $130,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes in April at Churchill Downs, $400,000 Brooklyn Stakes (G2) in June at Belmont Park, $120,000 Birdstone Stakes in August at Saratoga and the $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) Nov. 6 at Del Mar in which he set a track record for 1 5/8 miles (2:42.61) under Oaklawn regular Ramon Vazquez. The Isaac Murphy and Brooklyn were 1 ½ miles, the Birdstone 1 ¾ miles. He also won a 1 ½-mile allowance race at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting.
Asked if he considered Lone Rock’s roughly 13 ½-month ascent from a $40,000 claimer to Dubai World Cup candidate amazing, Diodoro said, “Yeah.”
The Razorback would mark Lone Rock’s first start since concluding his spectacular 2021 campaign with a three-quarter length victory over stablemate Thomas Shelby in the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 18 at Oaklawn. Thomas Shelby was scheduled to run in Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn.
“Just the timing, I think,” Diodoro said, outlining his decision to point Lone Rock for the Razorback. “After talking with the owner and stuff, I think it lines up good. Got lots of space between the Tinsel and the Razorback. Obviously, we’re missing the Fifth Season tomorrow, which is only a mile. So, I think the timing lined up perfect. I keep saying as soon as this horse is telling us he needs a break, we’re going to go give him a break. But right now, he keeps telling us he’s ready to go and take one step at a time.”
Lone Rock returned to the work tab Friday morning, breezing a half-mile in :49.60 under Vazquez. The track was fast.
“He worked great,” Diodoro said.
Owned by Flying P Stable (Jason Provenzano) and R. A. Hill Stable (Raymond A Hill), Lone Rock has won 14 of 37 career starts and earned $1,114,921, including $842,884 last year. The gelding ran 12th in the 2019 Razorback.
Other locally based horses pointing for the Razorback include multiple Grade 3 winner Plainsman for trainer Brad Cox and Last Samurai (Dallas Stewart). Last Samurai won the inaugural $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for 3-year-olds Dec. 11 at Oaklawn. Both horses also worked Friday morning, with Plainsman going a half-mile in :48.60 and Last Samurai covering the same distance in :49.
The Razorback is a major local prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles April 23. Cigar, the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap winner, captured the inaugural Dubai World Cup the following year.
Calling the Southwest
Recent Oaklawn maiden special weights graduate Call Me Jamal is pointing for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29, the gelding’s trainer, Mike Puhich, said Friday morning.
Owned by prominent Pacific Northwest heart surgeon Mark Dedomenico, Call Me Jamal was a front-running winner Dec. 18 under Geovanni Franco. In the 1 1/16-mile race, Call Me Jamal surrendered the lead in deep stretch before battling back to win by a head. It was his third career start and first around two turns.
“If he’s as good in two weeks as he is today, he’s definitely going,” Puhich said, referring to the Southwest. “He’s ready.”
A chestnut son of the late Malibu Moon, Call Me Jamal is named after Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Jamal Adams.
The Southwest is Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races. The series began with the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1.
Other locally based horses pointing for the Southwest include Dash Attack for trainer Kenny McPeek, Barber Road (John Ortiz), Ben Diesel (Dallas Stewart) and Osbourne (Ron Moquett).
Dash Attack, Barber Road and Ben Diesel finished 1-2-7, respectively, in the 1-mile Southwest. Osbourne finished second in the $400,000 Springboard Mile Stakes Dec. 17 at Remington Park in his last start.
All four horses recorded workouts over a fast-track Friday morning. Dash Attack (:49.80), Ben Diesel (:49) and Osbourne (:49.20) went a half-mile. Barber Road (1:03.60) went 5 furlongs.
Smarty Jones third-place finisher Ignitis is under consideration for the Southwest, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Like the Smarty Jones, the Southwest will offer 17 points to the top four finishes (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Post positions for the Southwest will be drawn Jan. 24.
Joel Rosario, the favorite to land an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding jockey of 2021, recorded his first victory at the 2021-2022 meeting in Friday’s sixth race aboard favored Chasing Time ($3) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Myracehorse. Rosario, who turned 37 Friday, was riding for the first time since suffering a hairline fracture of a rib after being unseated shortly after the finish of a Dec. 2 race at Aqueduct. Rosario is scheduled to ride regularly at Oaklawn through at least early April, his agent, Ron Anderson, said. … After going a combined 0 for 31 through the first 15 days of the meeting, Mike and Mickala Sisk (M and M Racing) and Danny Caldwell, who have split the last eight leading owner titles, recorded victories Friday. M and M won the second race with favored Summer Storm ($4.40) and the fourth race with Horse Greedy ($16.60). David Cohen rode both winners for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Caldwell won the fifth race with Unembellished ($17.60). Caldwell was Oaklawn’s leading owner in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. M and M has topped the owner’s standings at the last four meetings. … Apprentice jockey Kylee Jordan is scheduled to resume riding next week, her agent, Joe Santos, said. Jordan hasn’t ridden since Dec. 19 because of a dislocated shoulder suffered in a spill. She has been getting on horses in the mornings in advance of her return.
Oaklawn Park Press Release
Photo: Lone Rock (Coady Photography)