This time last year, Lone Rock was preparing for a mid-level allowance race at Oaklawn Park. He was three months away from being claimed for $40,000 after a November race at Churchill Downs.
Now, the gelding is two days away from racing for a chunk of a $600,000 purse in Saturday’s Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park. And should things go well there, he’s six weeks away from racing for a $12 million purse in the Dubai World Cup.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro said Lone Rock could venture to the Middle East with a strong showing in the 1 1/6-mile Razorback. The 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup would actually be a cutback from Lone Rock’s latest escapades. He won seven of nine races last year, many of those at distances few North American Thoroughbreds tackle.
There was the 1 1/2-mile Isaac Murphy Marathon at Churchill Downs and Brooklyn Stakes at Belmont Park. There was the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga and the 1 5/8-mile Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes at Del Mar, which came with a track-record of 2:42.61 for the 13 furlongs. And there was a 1 1/2-mile Oaklawn allowance victory opening the 2021 season.
Lone Rock finishes 2021 6-for-7
All told, Lone Rock won six of his last seven races, a streak running from mid-April to mid-December’s score in the inaugural Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn. He banked $842,884 of his career $1,148,641 haul last year.
“This horse, the crazy thing is — Oaklawn, Churchill, Belmont, Saratoga, Del Mar — he’s won stakes at all those places,” Diodoro said. “Pretty neat. … Obviously, the farther the better. This is what we’re handed right now. The horse is sharp and he handled the mile and an eighth. Hopefully, he’ll be able to handle this.”
The 1 1/8 miles Diodoro refers to is the Tinsel. There, the 7-year-old son of Majestic Warrior edged out stablemate Thomas Shelby by three-quarters of a length for his first Oaklawn stakes score.
He’s the favorite, but it’s wide open
Winning his second won’t come nearly as easy. Lone Rock is the 3/1 morning-line favorite, but the Razorback field outpunches its Grade 3 status, with eight stakes winners in the nine-horse field. Thomas Shelby (6/1) returns. There’s Plainsman, the 7/2 second favorite.
There’s Todd Pletcher’s Promise Keeper (4/1), who won the Peter Pan at Belmont Park last year before finishing fourth in the Ohio Derby. A Promise Keeper victory in his first race in 7 1/2 months gives Pletcher his record-tying fifth Razorback title.
“I think any horse in the field can win it. You’re not going to be going ‘Wow! What the heck?’ It’s a very wide-open, competitive race,” Diodoro said.