When he steps into the starting gate for the 143rd Preakness next Saturday, Diamond King will have brought Chuck Zacney full circle.
Diamond King will be the first Preakness starter for Zacney, managing partner of co-owner Cash is King, since the syndicate won in 2005 with Afleet Alex – the first horse it ever purchased.
It will also come almost a year to the day after Zacney purchased the Quality Road colt for $235,000 as Hip No. 236 during Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale, held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
“The story goes that we got this horse at the sale last May and as soon as I saw him train I never said he's a [Kentucky] Derby horse. I always said this is a Preakness horse,” Zacney said. “I always had my sights set on the Preakness, and here we are just about a week out.”
Co-owned by Glenn Bennett's LC Racing and Jonathan and Leonard Green of D.J. Stable, the John Servis-trained Diamond King earned an automatic entry in the Preakness by winning the Federico Tesio Stakes April 21 at Laurel Park. It was his second stakes win, following Laurel's Heft Stakes in his juvenile finale.
“Being new to the game back in 2005, we never thought we'd have a horse like Alex, and then trying to get there again over the years and realizing how difficult it is,” Zacney said. “That's why we're so close. We did the 'Win-and-You're In' in the Tesio, so we're like, 'Why not give it a go?' We did enter in the Peter Pan and I believe we were second choice, but talking to John, the horse is on the upswing, so we figured why not give it a go?”
Diamond King raced as a juvenile for Philadelphia Park-based trainer Butch Reid before being moved to Servis prior to a third-place finish in the Swale (G3) Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park in his sophomore debut. He won three of four starts at 2, the exception coming in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), in which he clipped heels and lost rider Frankie Pennington.
“I have to give Butch credit; him and I were the ones that picked Diamond King,” Zacney said. “Butch was at the breeze show, really liked him, and I had him on a short list. I went down to the sale and did the bidding and we did get him. We saw after his December race that we wanted to send him south. John has an operation already at Palm Meadows so rather than reinvent the wheel and have Butch pick up roots and send some help and people down there, it just made sense to transition over to John.”
Diamond King's name comes from the love of baseball Zacney shares with a few friends who are invested in the colt through Cash is King.
“A couple buddies of mine have a small slice of the horse. We all got to know each other through baseball,” Zacney said. “I had one of them [Matt Rosenbloom] come up with something related to baseball, and he came up with Diamond King.”
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