Nanoosh has never lost in three starts for trainer Robertino Diodoro, but colt's biggest test yet comes in Monday's $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Bred and co-owned by Zayat Stables LLC, Nanoosh will be making his first start since winning the $250,000 Zia Park Derby Nov. 21 at Zia Park. Diodoro said Justin Zayat, his family's racing and stallion manager, then targeted the Razorback for the colt's 4-year-old debut.
“He said, 'It's up to you, but I wouldn't be opposed to giving him a little bit of a break now and keeping him fresh and having him ready for the Razorback,' ” Diodoro said. “He's the one that originally came up with the plan and we've stuck to it and hopefully it's going to pay off.”
A son of the Zayat-raced Paynter, Nanoosh began his racing career with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas before being transferred to Diodoro last summer. Nanoosh won an allowance race on the turf Sept. 7 at Canterbury Park and an allowance race Oct. 28 at Turf Paradise before capturing the Zia Park Derby in his stakes debut.
Diodoro said Nanoosh was among the first horses he received from the Zayats, best known for campaigning 2015 Arkansas Derby, Rebel and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
“We thought he was a nice horse,” Diodoro said. “Justin's the one that kept telling me this horse is better than what he shows on paper. He needs to grow into himself, mature. He really has, actually. He's just got better and better with his races, and the way he looks and his training. Even just being here at Oaklawn, since the Zia Park Derby, I think this horse has trained way better than he ever has. What I like, he's been on a weekly work schedule and every work has been strong, if not stronger, every time. There hasn't been one flat work.”
Nanoosh (12-1 on the morning line) has a 4-0-0 record from seven lifetime starts and earnings of $217,696.
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