February 6, 2014
‘TDN Rising Star’ Diamond Bachelor (War Front/Seasoned) (B-Jamm Ltd) gets a second try on the dirt when he makes his 2014 debut Saturday in Santa Anita’s GII Robert B. Lewis S. The handsome colt, who stamped himself as a turf star early in his juvenile campaign, was last seen finishing ninth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 2. Typically a frontrunner who displays a lot of gate speed, he stumbled out of the 12-hole in that dirt debut and had a troubled trip from that point on. “He got a bad start and got a lot of dirt in his face and for that reason the Breeders’ Cup was a non event,” conditioner Patrick Biancone said. “Let me put it this way, if you do not have a clean start it is a handicap and in this race he was not able to overcome that handicap.”
Biancone has put a line through that race and feels that the horse deserves a second chance to prove himself on the dirt, which is why he chose the Robert Lewis S. “What is past is past,” Biancone remarked. “The program of racing brings no race on the turf for 3-year-olds at this moment. My owners hope they have a Derby horse. We don’t know yet. We want to try one more time on the dirt. Hopefully this time it all goes right and then we will see where we are standing.”
The flashy bay was tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after a dazzling debut performance going a mile over the Del Mar lawn Aug. 8. He burned up the turf in a speedy wire-to-wire victory next time over that course and distance in the Oak Tree Juvenile S. Sept. 4 and had a near miss in the Zuma Beach S. on the Santa Anita sod Oct. 6. Kin Hui’s Diamond 100 Racing Club LLC purchased Diamond Bachelor for $570,000 at last year’s Barrett’s March 2-year-olds in training sale. He was the third highest priced juvenile at the sale, following subsequent grades stakes winners Corfu (Malibu Moon) and Havana (Dunkirk). After his blazing performance in the Oak Tree Juvenile, Susan Magnier and Walmac Farm Director Robert Trussell bought into the colt who was quickly making a name for himself on the turf. “He looked like a great prospect for the Breeders’ Cup grass or dirt,” Trussell said as to why he was interested in the colt. “We think he is a great prospect and a real stallion prospect eventually. Patrick [Biancone] is my trainer and good friend. He recommended to me that I go in on the deal.” It was this group of owners who made the final decision try the bay on the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as opposed to the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where he was likely to be one of the favorites. “We thought the upside was a lot more [in the Juvenile],” Trussell commented. “If he won it he would have been Champion 2-year-old in all likelihood, whereas you don’t have that kind of upside winning the turf. Also, we thought the Juvenile Turf was coming up tough and the dirt was coming up kind of weak. It looked like it was an easier spot with more upside. If he handled the dirt we could have been sitting in a really good spot.”
Diamond Bachelor was given about two months off following the Breeders’ Cup and Biancone believes that rest did him a world of good. “He matured,” Biancone remarked. “He changed physically. When you have a nice 2-year-old, you hope he will do well at three. The break we gave him did him a lot of good. He put on a lot of weight and he is growing both physically and mentally.” The bay returned to the worktab on New Year’s Eve and Biancone has slowly built up his works since then. Breezing over the main track every six days like clock work since his return to training, the distance of the works has gradually increased from four furlongs to seven in his most recent work Jan. 30, which he completed in 1:26 3/5. “He really is not a very difficult horse to train,” Biancone commented. “He really loves to train and loves to breeze. He is gradually improving each time. We think we have him fit and ready for Saturday.” Biancone typically sends Diamond Bachelor out to breeze two or three days prior to each race, but that will not be the case this time.
“He will not work anymore before the race,” the trainer said. “He has changed with time and he is starting to understand more of what we want. He is more manageable. He is a high-energy horse and we try before each race to take a little bit of edge off him, but we do not have to do that now.” Biancone is very happy with the way the horse is coming into this test and believes the main question will be how he handles the dirt. “Everybody knows he is talented,” Biancone said. “The question is if he is able to reproduce his talent on the dirt and the answer will be Saturday. What we don’t want is to force him to do something. Most of the War Fronts are better on the turf anyway. He would be a little bit of an exception if he can really be as good on the dirt as he is on the turf, but we will take a shot.” If Diamond Bachelor shows that dirt is not for him in Saturday’s test, he will be returned to the turf. “There is no question he is a great horse on the turf, but we are going to see how he runs Saturday,” Biancone said. “If he gives us a big display, we will go on the Derby trail. If he does not, we will immediately change the road back to the turf. He deserves another chance.”
Biancone added, “Let me put it this way, if the race was on the turf, I would tell you he would not be beaten. Everybody thinks he is extremely good. Now, we have to let the horse do the talking. Let's hope he likes it and if he likes it, he is going to give us a very good display.