Earlier in the Oaklawn Park meet, Robertino Diodoro had become just the fourth trainer in the track’s history to rack up 50 victories there in a single season.
The Diodoro barn put an exclamation point on the season during closing Saturday with win No. 52 when Dunph, long ago a stakes winner, struck as a 57.8-1 winner in allowance optional claiming company.
In a post-Jason Servis/Jorge Navarro racing world, however, winning at a 22% clip with a longshot first off the claim brings with it a certain level of mistrust. Reflecting on his Oaklawn training title Sunday, Diodoro staked his reputation on providing horses the best care, working with owners he likes and making best use of the condition book.
“I want to be able to go home at night and say that we don’t cheat. We don’t cut corners, and we don’t BS the owners,” he said. “I want to be able to go home and sleep.”
Diodoro won with 52 of 236 Oaklawn starters during the meet, and 48% of his runners ended in the money. In all, they earned just north of $2 million.
A regular over the years at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, Diodoro has become a Midwest staple who will send his first string this spring to Lone Star Park in Texas. He’ll also stable a smaller group at Churchill Downs.
It has been a steady rise for a trainer who started “literally right at the bottom at bush tracks in Canada” with help from his father.
According to Equibase, Diodoro’s lifetime winning percentage is 20%, and he’s striking across the country this year at 22.8%.
Going back to 2018, Inside Straight won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). In 2016, he sent Subtle Indian out for a victory in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). Broadway Empire triumphed the 2013 Oklahoma Derby (G3) and Canadian Derby (G3), while Sky Promise took that race as well as the British Columbia Derby (G3) in 2018.
That’s the extent of Diodoro’s graded victories. But, “this sounds maybe corny — we try to treat every horse like they’re a graded stakes horse,” the trainer stated.
Horses claimed into the barn enter a program that includes top dental care and ultimate comfort in their stalls.
“It costs the owners money. It costs myself money. But we don’t cut any corners,” Diodoro said. “The old saying of what you put into it is what you get out of it applies to any business.”