For the Reporter
A bargain buy at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Diamonds R appears a top threat in Sunday’s $50,000 Washington Oaks at 1 1/8 miles.
The 39th edition of the Oaks is likely to determine the track’s Top 3-Year-Old Filly of 2018. It marks the last of four open events for sophomore gals, a series that has already produced three different winners – Ima Happy Cat and Bella Mia each capturing a sprint, and Diamonds R coming to life in the two-turn Irish Day Stakes two weeks ago.
The field of seven includes the top four finishers from the Irish Day, in which Diamonds R rallied from slightly off the pace to edge a resilient Bella Mia in 1:42.96 for 1 1/16 miles. Diamonds R received a 70 Beyer, exactly the same as Ima Happy Cat earned in the Seattle and Bella Mia in the Kent.
A Kentucky-bred by Alternation-Epitome of a Lady, Diamonds R sold for $15,000 to George Todaro and has already earned $62,228. She is 3-0-0 in eight starts overall.
Diamonds R is from Alternation’s first crop while Epitome of a Lady spent the majority of her race career with racing for Todaro and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in California. A son of Distorted Humor, Alternation was a stone router, winning three times at nine furlongs, and had a pedigree that intrigued Todaro race manager Bob Cappelletti.
“Her half-sister (Chaybaby) sold for $975,000 to Bob Baffert, and I thought it was a good family,” Cappelletti said. “I thought Alternation had a chance to be a good sire.”
Diamonds R has a stalking style that suits the Oaks, a race that has produced eight gate-to-wire winners in 22 runnings at Emerald Downs. Bella Mia, Ca Dreamer and Spot On all figure to show speed, a scenario that bodes well for Diamonds R and hot-riding Leonel Camacho-Flores.
• A Diamonds R victory would give Tom Wenzel a record fourth victory in the Oaks. He is tied with Larry Ross and Grant Forster with three wins apiece. Wenzel previously won with Rivoltella (2007), Stopshoppingdebbie (2013) and Princess Kennedy.
• Owner George Todaro (Diamonds R) also has enjoyed good success in the Oaks, winning with Rivoltella and co-owning 2014 champion Lady Fifty Two.
• Rocco Bowen (Ima Happy Dancer) bids for his third straight Oaks victory, and is tied with Ricky Frazier, Gary Baze and Leslie Mawing for most Oaks wins overall at three apiece.
• Trainer Blaine Wright (Bella Mia, Downwind) already has seven stakes wins this season and is on pace to break the single-season record of 12 stakes wins set twice by Doris Harwood (2007 & 2009). Wright tied his own single-day track record Sunday with three stakes wins (Riser, Mt. Rainier; Baja Sur, King County Express; Top Quality, Boeing).
• Washington-breds have won 6 of 14 stakes this season: Sippin Fire (2), Invested Prospect (1), Bella Mia (1), Dedicated to You (1) and Baja Sur (1).
• Average field size is 7.1 runners in stakes races, average win payoff $9.60, and betting favorites 7 for 14.
The field for Sunday’s 39th running of the $50,000 Washington Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles, Race 7, 5:07 p.m.: 1-Ima Happy Cat, Rocco Bowen, 121 pounds; 2-Princessof the Nyl, Kevin Orozco, 121; 3-Spot On, Austin Solis, 121; 4-Diamonds R, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 121; 5-Bella Mia, Julien Couton, 121; 6-Ca Dreamer, Javier Matias, 121; 7-Downwind, Gary Wales, 121.
Racing this week
• Friday, July 20
6:30 p.m. (7 races)
• Saturday, July 21
5 p.m. (8 races)
Twilight Saturday (through Sept. 22)
Breakfast at the Wire (through Aug. 25)
• Sunday, July 22
2 p.m. (10 races)
$50,000 Washington Oaks
Fiesta Premio Esmeralda
T-shirts for first 5,000 fans
The horse population at Emerald Downs is 911, up 40 horses from the same date in 2017. … According to trainer Jeff Metz, Kaabraaj will run Sunday, Aug. 12 – in either the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) or the $22,500 Pete Pedersen Memorial at one mile. Track record-holder at six furlongs, Kaabraaj ran the meet’s fastest 6½ furlongs, 1:14.31, while wiring allowance foes here on July 8. The 6-year-old Abraaj gelding has raced around two turns twice, finishing third in an allowance race in 2015 and eighth in the Budweiser Stakes in 2016. … In addition to Riser earning a career-high 97 Beyer in the Mt. Rainier, runner-up Barkley checked in with a career-high 94. … Alliford Bay attempts to defend her title in Saturday’s $50,000 California Governor’s Cup Handicap for fillies and mares at Sacramento. The 4-year-old City Zip filly won the Washington State Legislators Stakes here last month. … Saturday’s eight-race card drew 74 entries or 9.25 per race. … Dave Heerensperger’s Majestic Eagle improved to 2-4-0 in six starts this year with a powerful victory in a $62,000 allowance on the turf Thursday at Del Mar. The 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt is trained by Neil Drysdale.