Robertino Diodoro became the second trainer at Oaklawn Park's horse racing meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings March 29, the 37th day of the scheduled 57-day meeting.
Diodoro, whose main client in runaway leading owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk), entered Thursday with $1,100,345 in purse earnings and 28 victories to rank second behind perennial champion Steve Asmussen in both categories. Diodoro, among the nation's winningest trainers, has had a division in Hot Springs every year since 2015 and calls Oaklawn the most significant meet on his calendar.
Diodoro is on pace to surpass previous Oaklawn bests for victories (32 in 2018) and purse earnings ($1,487,654 in 2017).
“We had a couple of ups and downs, but for the most part this has probably been our best meet,” Diodoro said. “We want to finish strong. We're going to stay here until the end. We want to win as many races as we can, that's for sure. The money's good. This is kind of becoming a second home here. I love it here, really. Not just the money and racing. Good town. Good people.”
Diodoro said he's had around 40 horses on track throughout the meeting and shuttled additional stock from Louisiana Downs near Shreveport. Diodoro's top assistant, Sean Williams, has been based this year at Oaklawn rather than Turf Paradise (Diodoro is the perennial champion at the Phoenix track) and foreman Ike Green has been a swingman at the Arkansas and Louisiana venues.
“Ike's been a big part, just because we've got so many horses and shipping them back and forth,” said Diodoro, Oaklawn's second-leading trainer the last two years. “Just nice to have your own guy. You don't have to worry about a horse being stuck on the trailer for six hours and it's only a three-hour drive. All those little things add up. It's nice to have extra sets of eyes.”
Diodoro said he will be based at Churchill Downs and Canterbury Park after the Oaklawn meeting ends May 4. The move to Kentucky represents a major geographical shift for Diodoro, who had previously maintained a presence in New York. Diodoro said he will have 38 stalls at Churchill Downs.
“We're definitely not downsizing on numbers, but just location for the summer,” Diodoro said. “We were there once before, but I think this is the first time that we're going there with some stock. I'm going to be there. We're going there not to fool around. We're going there to win races. I'm excited about it.”
Diodoro's go-to rider, David Cohen, is also relocating to Kentucky after previously being based in New York following the Oaklawn meeting.
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