Lone Rock could try Dubai World Cup after Razorback

Photo: Shamela Hanley/Eclipse Sportswire

Coach Robertino Diodoro said in November that Lone Rock’s The 2022 racing schedule could include another shot in Grade 1 company after the gelding energized in marathons last year.

Diodoro has this level 1 race circled and a familiar path to try to get there.

Diodoro said Friday morning that Lone Rock, a multiple winning Year 2 millionaire, is targeting the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses on Feb. 12 at Oaklawn. If all goes well in the 1 1/16 mile race, Diodoro said the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 26 in the United Arab Emirates will be on the table. The Dubai World Cup is 2,000 meters, or about 1 1/4 miles.

The Razorback would be Lone Rock’s first start under 1 1/8 miles since an allowance win at 1 1/16 miles on its 2021 debut last February at Oaklawn.

“I don’t know if we have to win,” Diodoro said. “We’re shortening up to a mile and a sixteenth in the Razorback. As long as he shows up again and runs like he’s running, then we’re going to seriously think about it (the Dubai World Cup), for sure.

Gun Runner kicked off their 2017 Horse of the Year campaign with a blistering victory in the Razorback before finishing runners-up at the Dubai World Cup in their next start. Last year’s Razorback winner Mystic Guide won the Dubai World Cup in his next start.

Lone Rock, a 7-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, began his racing career with John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, one of the most successful owners in Oaklawn history, and retired trainer Will VanMeter. Lone Rock ran 10th in the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles in 2017 at Keeneland and closed his 2018 campaign with a win in the $75,000 Jeffrey A Hawk Memorial Stakes from Remington Park at 1 mile and 70 yards.

Lone Rock spent much of the next two years in the allocation or high-end claiming ranks before Diodoro picked up the gelding for $40,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs and targeted racing beyond classic distance. American (1 1/4 miles) in 2021.

Lone Rock won 7 of 9 starts last year, including the $130,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes in April at Churchill Downs, $400,000 Brooklyn Stakes (G2) in June at Belmont Park, $120,000 Birdstone Stakes in August at Saratoga and the $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) November 6 at Del Mar during which he set a track record of 1 5/8 miles (2:42.61) under Ramon Vazquez, an Oaklawn regular. The Isaac Murphy and the Brooklyn were 1 ½ miles, the Birdstone 1 3/4 miles. He also won a 1 1/2 mile allowance race at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting.

When asked if he thought Lone Rock’s roughly 13.5 month rise from $40,000 contender to Dubai World Cup contender was incredible, Diodoro replied: “Yeah. .”

The Razorback would mark Lone Rock’s first start since the end of his spectacular 2021 campaign with a three-quarter victory over stablemate Thomas Shelby in the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on December 18 at Oaklawn. Thomas Shelby was scheduled to participate in the $150,000 fifth-season stakes Saturday at Oaklawn.

“Just the moment, I think,” Diodoro said, describing his decision to point Lone Rock for the Razorback. “After speaking with the owner and all that, I think it lines up nicely. There is plenty of space between the Tinsel and the Razorback. Obviously, we miss the fifth season tomorrow, which is only a mile away. So I think the timing was perfect. I keep saying that as soon as this horse tells us he needs a break, we’re going to give him a break. But right now, he keeps telling us he’s ready to move on and take it one step at a time.

Lone Rock returned to the work tab Friday morning, clocking a half-mile in 49.6 under Vazquez. The track was fast.

“He worked really well,” Diodoro said.

Owned by Flying P Stable (Jason Provenzano) and RA Hill Stable (Raymond A Hill), Lone Rock has won 14 of 37 career starts and earned $1,114,921, including $842,884 last year. The gelding finished 12th in the 2019 Razorback.

Other local horses pointing for the Razorback include Plainsman, a multiple Grade 3 winner, for trainer Brad Cox and Last Samurai (Dallas Stewart). Last Samurai won the inaugural $150,000 Poinsettia Stakes for 3-year-olds on Dec. 11 in Oaklawn. Both horses also worked Friday morning, with Plainsman covering a half mile in 48.6 and Last Samurai covering the same distance in 49.0.

The Razorback is a major local prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on April 23. Cigar, the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap winner, won the inaugural Dubai World Cup the following year.

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