DEL MAR, Calif.— Robertino Diodoro has been a successful trainer in the Midwest and Kentucky for years, with the occasional foray into New York. Now he’s turning his attention to the west once more with hopes of improving on a career-best earnings figure he set in 2021.
Diodoro horses racked up over $7.4 million in purses last year and he’s already halfway there in 2022. The power of Diodoro’s operation was on full display in Canada last month when he finished 1-2-3 in 74th running of the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs.
Diodoro has brought a barn full of runners to Del Mar this year hoping to make a mark in California racing.
“I have a lot of owners who really like it out here,” Diodoro says. “A lot own or rent a place out here for the meet.”
He says the “Ship & Win” incentive, offered to out-of-town operations, has been a major lure. All a first-time starter at Del Mar has to do is enter the gate and they win $5,000. Diodoro credited Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens with convincing him to come here.
”David’s made several phone calls, text messages, and e-mails to me over the last three years,” Diodoro said. “Anytime a racetrack puts the effort in, like Del Mar has, it’s hard not to help them. Once I started putting it out there, owners were showing interest.”
Diodoro points out that it’s not easy attracting horses to racetracks.
“People get set in their ways in their own places and circuits,” he notes, “and it’s kind of hard to break them from that.”
He’s noticed he’s not the only one attracted to Del Mar by the incentives.
“I think they’re making headway,” he says. “The field sizes so far, hats off to them. Obviously what they’re doing is working.”
As for his success at tracks ranging from Lone Star Park to Evangeline Downs to Saratoga, there’s one simple explanation.
“After five horses it comes down to help,” he says. “If you don’t have good help it doesn’t matter how much horsepower you have in the barn, it’s going to fail eventually. I’ve been fortunate to have some really good assistants over the years.”
His assistant at Del Mar is Sean Williams. He was Diodoro’s first hire and has become his longest-tenured assistant. He helps in a barn made up of a lot of claimers, dirt horses for the “S&W” and a couple of turf horses.
Diodoro has two winners out of 11 starts at Del Mar this summer and has more in the arsenal.
“We do have a couple babies at Churchill that are training,” Diodoro says, “and we’re thinking about bringing them out for a couple stakes later in the meet.”
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Robertino Diodoro (Coady Photography)