05/17/2012 11:57AM

Will Rogers Downs: Ransom Roberto tops Cherokee Nation Classic Cup

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Ransom Roberto has made the unlikely leap from $5,000 claimer to multiple stakes winner. On Saturday, he can push his earnings past $300,000 when he runs in the $55,000 Cherokee Nation Classic Cup at Will Rogers Downs.

The Cherokee Nation is one of two stakes to be run at the Claremore, Okla., track. The other is the $55,000 RPDC Classic Distaff. Both races are for 3-year-olds and up bred in Oklahoma, with the Classic Distaff restricted to fillies and mares. The races, at a mile and 70 yards, are the final stakes of the meet at Will Rogers. The 12-race card has a special first post of 11:45 a.m. Central.

Ransom Roberto won his maiden for a $5,000 claiming price in his career debut at Ellis Park in July 2009. He continued to race in the claiming ranks in Kentucky and Indiana, and by August 2010 had caught the attention of Steve Martin and his Oklahoma-based trainer, Wilson Brown.

“He had just run second for $7,500 [claiming] at Ellis, and we saw he was an Okie-bred,” Brown said.

Martin made an offer on the horse, it was accepted, and in his second start for his new connections, Ransom Roberto won an Oklahoma-bred allowance at Remington Park. He would go on to win the state’s biggest offering for his division, the $165,000 Oklahoma Classics Classic last fall at Remington. In more recent times, Ransom Roberto tackled open-company stakes rivals last out, taking the $75,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner on April 28.

“We went up to Fonner Park, and there were some nice horses in there, one horse made $800,000 and another $600,000,” Brown said. “It was tough, but it set up well. The two or three of them that were the favorites, they just left there hooking each other.”
Ransom Roberto and jockey David Cardoso bided their time near the back of the pack, then made a bid up the rail to defeat a field that included Grade 2 winner Shadowbdancing. And while Ransom Roberto will be returning to the statebred ranks Saturday, his connections are taking nothing for granted in the Cherokee Nation Classic.

“This race is not a gimme,” Brown said. “There are some horses in there that can really run. Fitzhugh Flash looks like to me that he’s on top of his game right now, and I’m going to have to give him a little weight.

“All you can do is enter them, lead them over, and hope for the best.”

Cardoso has the mount again on Ransom Roberto, who comes into Saturday’s race with a career record of 10 wins from 31 starts for earnings of $289,723.

Miranda Diane will be looking for her ninth Will Rogers win in the Distaff. It will be a rare two-turn start for the mare, who comes into the race off a 2 1/2-length win in the $55,000 Distaff Sprint at Will Rogers on April 23. Miranda Diane, who is 8 for 11 in Claremore and 11 for 29 in her career, is trained by Shane Seaton and is to be ridden by Nena Matz.