Diamond Oops will have several options of which Breeders’ Cup race to contest next month, but the 5-year-old gelding is safely in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) after rallying to win Friday’s course-and-distance prep at Keeneland, the $200,000 Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland under Florent Geroux.
The 3-1 favorite in the ancient, 6-furlong test, which dates to 1831, Diamond Oops wore down 51-1 outsider Empire of Gold in the final sixteenth to win by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:09.24 over a fast track.
“I was trying to time it right because when he makes the lead he’ll throw his heels up a little bit and slow himself down. I was just trying to time it right,” Geroux said. “When he saw (Empire of Gold) as his target, I knew we were going to get him.”
Owned by Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy Dunne, D P Racing, and trainer Patrick Biancone, Diamond Oops paid $8.60.
Empire of Gold, who opened up a 2 1/2-length lead in mid-stretch after taking over from No Parole after the latter set splits of :22.24 and :44.73, finished a clear second over Echo Town, who edged Whitmore for third by a head. The order of finish was rounded out by Absolutely Aiden, No Parole, Midnight Sands, Mo Dont No, and Lexitonian.
This was the sixth career stakes win and third graded score for Diamond Oops, who made an impressive last-to-first rally to capture the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) at Churchill Downs on Sept. 4. The son of Lookin at Lucky’s versatility was in evidence last year, when he captured the Smile Sprint (G3) on dirt and later missed by less than a length in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) over the Keeneland turf.
“He has the biggest heart; that’s the real reason he’s so good on both surfaces is he has a heart that can overcome anything,” said Andie Biancone, an assistant to her trainer father.
Diamond Oops, who now sports a line of 16-7-3-1, $1,058,590, was bred in Kentucky by Kin Hui Racing Stable. He was produced by the stakes-winning Patriotic Viva, a daughter of Whywhywhy also responsible for the stakes winner Patriotic Diamond.