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Trainer Diodoro pleased by 1-2 finish in wet Tinsel

by Pete Perkins Special to the Democrat-Gazette | December 19, 2021 at 2:43 a.m.

HOT SPRINGS -- A wet and cold day at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort was perfect for the winning connections.

A gap opened just in time for jockey Ramon Vazquez to ride Flying P Stable's and R A Hill Stable's Lone Rock past the leader. He surged forward to a three-quarter length win in the first running of the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes over 11/8 miles for horses three years old and up before an estimated crowd of 8,250 at Oaklawn on Saturday.

Lone Rock, a six-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, crossed the wire first over six other entrants in 1:49.77. Thomas Shelby finished second, a half length ahead of third-place Beau Luminarie. Warrior's Charge was fourth, 71/2 lengths behind the winner.

The field ran over a muddy track, a byproduct of thunderstorms and 1.33 inches of rain over the previous 24 hours. The dampness and a north breeze added extra chill to the 49-degree overcast afternoon.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro trains Lone Rock and Thomas Shelby, and despite the weather, his pleasure was evident.

"You never like to run two horses against each other when they're doing so well, but they both showed up and it was an awesome race," Diodoro said. "Both horses had to work for it. They got nothing given to them."

At the start, Thomas Shelby moved for the lead out of the gate, a position he had held from gate to wire in each of his previous three starts. He started the Tinsel on a three-race winning streak.

This time, Thomas Shelby faced a challenge for his typical front-running role from Huge Bigly, who led through the opening quarter-mile in 23.31. Thomas Shelby was 11/2 lengths behind in second, with Warrior's Charge third and Lone Rock fourth.

The order remained the same through the half in 47.80. But by the three-quarter mile pole, Thomas Shelby had moved to the front in 1:12.60, a half length in front of Huge Bigly, who gave way and faded to last in short order, finishing well back.

Huge Bigly was ridden by Reylu Gutierrez and is trained by John Ortiz.

"We want to be on the lead, but these are different kinds of horses in this race," Ortiz said.

The Tinsel was Huge Bigly's first career stakes attempt.

Jockey David Cohen rode Thomas Shelby.

"I kind of expected [Huge Bigly] to take off the way he did," Cohen said. "I typically put mine on the front end, but I thought mine really dug in and showed he belongs in this kind of race."

As the field neared the stretch, Lone Rock ran close behind Thomas Shelby and Warrior's Charge with no clear route to pass. As the three turned for home, Lone Rock dipped to the rail and Vazquez found a way through.

"I knew I had a lot of horse," Vazquez said. "I was waiting for a perfect spot and the perfect moment to move my horse. When I found the hole, he took off."

A late run by Beau Luminarie, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and trained by Rodolphe Brisset, appeared as a threat in the final 1/16 of a mile, but Lone Rock and Thomas Shelby held him off.

"He ran really good," Brisset said. "I'm not sure he wants to go that far. Every time runs a mile and an eighth or farther, he looks like a winner at the eighth pole, and he has a tendency to hang a little bit, but he ran a good race."

Beau Luminarie passed Warrior's Charge with 3/16 of a mile to go and opened up 63/4 lengths through the wire.

Warrior's Charge is a 5-year-old son of Munnings ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Brad Cox.

"He doesn't seem to me to have the same fire he did last year," Geroux said. "Maybe he's just getting a little bit older. Maybe it was today's track. I don't know. I just feel like before he was more aggressive. He was more competitive. Now he's almost too laid back."

Warrior's Charge, 19 5-4-4, started without a win since he led from start to finish in Oaklawn's Grade III Razorback Handicap on Feb. 17, 2020.

Lone Rock, 36 13-4-2, entered as the most consistent horse in the race. He had won eight of his previous 10 starts and otherwise finished second. Those wins included the Grade II Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 6, and the Grade II Brooklyn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 21. Lone Rock has $1,144,912 in career earnings, $842,884 of which have come this year.

Diodoro said Lone Rock and Thomas Shelby both had to overcome unfamiliar circumstances.

"Lone Rock had a troubled trip the whole way, trapped on the inside," Diodoro said. "Thomas Shelby has been loose on the lead the last four or five times, and he had to sit off the pace today. Both horses never had the perfect trip, but both showed up down the lane and ran their hearts out."

Print Headline: Trainer Diodoro pleased by 1-2 finish in wet Tinsel

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