08/21/2013 2:19PM

British Columbia Derby may be too close back for Broadway Empire

Ryan Haynes/Coady Photo Services
Broadway Empire could make his next start in the Oklahoma Derby.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Timing is everything in sports, and the timing of the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby for Broadway Empire last Saturday at Northlands Park worked out perfectly. A few hours later, and Broadway Empire wouldn’t have made the race. Luckily for his connections, he did, and his display of speed and stamina in winning the 1 3/8-mile race with Rico Walcott aboard was very impressive.

According to trainer Robertino Diodoro, Broadway Empire developed a quarter crack in his right front foot following his final work leading up to the Canadian Derby. An infection caused by the quarter crack became an issue literally minutes before the race.

“He trained beautifully the last three days leading up to the race, but it flared up just before we were called to the paddock,” Diodoro said. “We were very concerned about it, but we have a great blacksmith, John McKenzie, who dealt with the problem. He said if the race had been held at eight or nine o’clock at night, we would have been in trouble.”

According to Diodoro, Broadway Empire was slightly favoring his foot Saturday night but by Tuesday morning he was bouncing around the shed row.

“He was bucking and kicking, and I needed to use a lip chain to walk him,” Diodoro said. “Everything looks great now.”

What was impressive about Broadway Empire’s three-length win over Reporting Star was that Walcott had him sitting just off a very fast pace before drawing away going down the backstretch the final time. The other three horses on or near the lead – Success Rate, Title Contender, and Smart Promotion – finished ninth, 11th, and 12th, respectively.

For Diodoro, 39, winning the most important race in Alberta is a dream come true. He was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, and has been around racehorses all his life. He started training horses in the bushes when he was 17.

“Trout Springs, Lethbridge, they were good places to get started,” said Diodoro, who has won the trainers’ title twice at Northlands.

“Anyone that trains horses in Alberta has two goals,” Diodoro said. “Being the leading trainer and winning the Canadian Derby. I’m pretty proud to have accomplished both.”

Broadway Empire was purchased for $25,000 in February by Randy Howg, Rick Running Rabbit, and Bob Butz. The first time he ran, Diodoro was pretty confident he was going to win, which he did in style, romping by 16 1/2 lengths in a $30,000 optional maiden claiming race at Turf Paradise on March 18.

“A couple of agents were getting ready to bet the pick four and asked me what I thought about him,” Diodoro said. “I pointed to the test barn, which was down the road, and told them if he runs the way I think he can, that’s how far he’ll win by. I’ve had a lot of horses that trained like machines but disappointed, so it was nice to see him run so well.”

In the past, Diodoro has tried to win the Canadian Derby by claiming horses or buying them a few weeks before the race. Winning with a horse he developed will be something he treasures for the rest of his life.

“Having him right from the start makes it pretty special, and it’s been a real team effort,” Diodoro said. “It started in Phoenix with my assistants Kent Knudsen and Sean Williams. Here I have Michelle Palmer. They are all young and eager to learn. I feel like a hockey coach with a lot of hot prospects. It has all really come together the last six months.”

Diodoro’s wife, Nikki, is a big part of the team, and she played a major role in helping Broadway Empire overcome a breathing problem he developed following his maiden win. Nikki Diodoro is in charge of the barn in Southern California.

“After his big win, everyone is trying to buy him, but when he got to California he developed an airway issue,” Robertino Diodoro said. “We weren’t getting anywhere using antibiotics. Without much help from me, Nikki did the research and came up with the right treatment for him.”

Diodoro wasn’t sure if Broadway Empire was going to make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Sept. 8 or the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sept. 29.

“I met my wife in Vancouver and I’ve made a lot of friends there, so it would be more fun and a lot easier to go to Hastings,” Diodoro said. “But the race is only three weeks away, and it would be nice to give him a bit more time between races, especially with the quarter crack. It will be a lot more expensive and more of a hassle to go to Oklahoma, but I’m kind of leaning in that direction right now. Nothing has been determined yet, though.”