08/01/2012 2:33PM

Remington Park: Diamond Joe eyes Oklahoma Derby


Diamond Joe, a Nebraska-based 3-year-old who has won his last seven starts by a combined margin of 48 lengths, could get his first significant class test next month in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby. Trainer Chuck Turco said the horse is being considered for the Remington Park race that Diamond Joe’s sire, Dazzling Falls, won for Turco in 1995.

Diamond Joe had been a candidate for the $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, but his connections have decided to pass the Super Derby prep and instead contemplate the Oklahoma Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race on Sept. 30.

“I believe that he’s that kind of horse, but who knows,” Turco said. “And so at some point, we’ve got to find out. The Prelude was one of those spots, but timing-wise and weather-wise it didn’t work out, so something at Remington probably makes more sense at this point. He’d have to run in some kind of prep before the Oklahoma Derby. They usually have one at Remington.”

Diamond Joe last raced July 20 and was a seven-length winner of the $28,000 Skunktail at Horsemen’s Park. Prior to that, he romped by nine lengths in the Lincoln Derby at a mile and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 75. Diamond Joe’s win streak began in an allowance at Fonner on March 24, and he has since raced in nothing but stakes, all under jockey Jake Olesiak.

“We’re pretty excited about him,” said Turco, who trains Diamond Joe for Joe Koziol and Edward J. Miller Jr. “He is gigantic. And not only does he look the part, he runs like it. I know [he’s been facing] easier. But all he’s done is take on all-comers. He’s won from dead last and won on the lead. He’s won seven in a row. I’ve never had one do that before. And it’s really cool he’s by Dazzling Falls.”

Dazzling Falls got his start in Nebraska and went on to win the Oklahoma Derby and Arkansas Derby. He also ran in the Kentucky Derby and was 13th to Thunder Gulch before rebounding with a win in the $200,000 Alabama Derby.

Turco has a 40-horse stable based in Nebraska, where since returning to the circuit in 2010 he has won nine titles between Columbus, Fonner, Horsemen’s Park, and Lincoln. He said after the Columbus meet that ends Sept. 9 he plans to race some horses at Remington, among them Reach One More, who has won two stakes in his last two starts. Turco also plans to be at Remington’s Hall of Fame ceremonies the week of the Oklahoma Derby to support inductee Highland Ice, with whom he won nine local stakes for owner Gerald Dixon. Turco, 51, has not had a starter at Remington since 2006.

“I kept the 405 prefix on my phone, because I knew I’d be back in Oklahoma City,” he said.

Remington opens Aug. 10.

Seven night cards at Fair Grounds

Fair Grounds on Tuesday received Louisiana Racing Commission approval for seven night cards during the track’s Thoroughbred meet that opens on Thanksgiving Day, one more than last season. Fair Grounds will have a 5 p.m. Central post on Dec. 28, Jan. 18, Feb. 1, Feb. 22, and March 1, 8, and 15.

The commission also approved Fair Grounds’s eight-race stakes schedule for the Quarter Horse meet that opens Aug. 15.

In other business, Boyd Gaming, the parent company of Delta Downs, told the commission its pending acquisition of Peninsula Gaming, the parent company of Evangeline Downs, is on target for a Dec. 31 transfer date.

Lone Star may race Saturday nights

Lone Star Park has asked the Texas Racing Commission for a 50-date Thoroughbred meet for 2013 that includes three Saturday night programs the final three weeks of the meet. The track has traditionally had a 1:35 p.m. post on Saturdays, but has asked for a 6:35 p.m. start time on June 22, June 29, and July 6. The track would not race on the Sundays following those dates, with the meet itself to run from April 11 to July 6.

The commission could consider the request at its meeting Aug. 14.

Lone Star also is seeking a 23-date Quarter Horse meet from Sept. 20-Nov. 9.

Sam Houston has asked for a 33-date meet for Thoroughbreds from Jan. 18-March 17, two more dates than 2012. The track would primarily race Friday through Monday. Sam Houston also is seeking a 21-date Quarter Horse meet from March 28-May 12.

Retama Park has requested a 26-date Thoroughbred meet from Oct. 4-Dec. 28 and a 20-date Quarter Horse meet from June 7-Aug. 10.