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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Flying P Stable’s Lone Rock continued his domination of the marathon division, winning his fourth consecutive start at 12 furlongs or longer in Thursday’s 11th renewal of the $120,000 Birdstone, a 1 3/4-mile stamina test for older horses at Saratoga Race Course.
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Trained by Robertino Diodoro, the 6-year-old Majestic Warrior gelding launched his streak in March at Oaklawn Park with an optional-claiming tilt and followed with a 3 3/4-length score in April in the Isaac Murphy Marathon at Churchill, both at 1 1/2 miles. Lone Rock entered the Birdstone from a powerful 11 1/4-length score in the 12-furlong Brooklyn (G2) presented by Northwell Health on June 5 at Belmont Park.
With regular rider Ramon Vazquez up, Lone Rock tracked in second as Moretti, the defending Birdstone winner with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, led the seven-horse field through splits of 24.28 seconds, 48.88, 1:13.72, and 1:39.71 on the fast main track.
Lone Rock, traveling comfortably throughout, rated kindly in second position outside the pacesetter with Shooger Ray Too and Ry’s the Guy tracking in the second tier in front of You’re to Blame, who had 3 lengths on Rocketry and the trailing He’s No Lemon.
Moretti led the field into the final turn, but when Vazquez gave Lone Rock his cue, the veteran gelding advanced with ease, putting away Moretti at the top of the lane and powering through the wire a 4-length winner in a final time of 2:56.45.
Shooger Ray Too, with Joel Rosario up, completed the exacta by 1 length over Moretti. It was a further 12 3/4 lengths back to Rocketry in fourth. Rounding out the order of finish was Ry’s the Guy, You’re to Blame, and He’s No Lemon.
Diodoro, who secured his second stakes win at Saratoga following Special Relativity’s score in the 2019 Shine Again, was full of praise for Lone Rock.
“The horse ran big again,” Diodoro said. “He ran the way he’s been training. He’s been training like a monster and it’s always nice when they train like a monster in the morning and come out in the afternoon and do the same thing. We’re pretty proud of him today.
“I thought that Moretti would take the lead from him and Ramon did exactly as I said, which was ‘Don’t let him get away from you,’” added Diodoro. “I’ve seen it many times when a horse will get out to the front and open up a few and put the rest of the field to sleep. We definitely didn’t want that to happen today. I thought Ramon did an excellent job staying on (Moretti) the whole way.”
Lone Rock has won 6 of 7 starts since being claimed back by Diodoro and Flying P Stables for $40,000 out of a winning effort in November at Churchill Downs.
Vazquez made his Saratoga debut a memorable one.
“This is a dream come true. It’s been a dream for a long time to ride at Saratoga. I’m so happy,” Vazquez said. “I was really confident in my horse. I was a little worried about the distance; he hasn’t run this far before. But I knew my horse was feeling at his best right now. I just put my horse in a good position and when I asked him, he had a lot (left).”
Bred in Kentucky by Town & Country Horse Farms and Pollock Farms, Lone Rock banked $66,000 in victory while improving his record to 34-12-3-2. He returned $3.70 as the 4/5 mutuel favorite.
Diodoro said he will take his time before deciding on a next start for Lone Rock.
“One step at a time,” Diodoro said. “We want to make sure he comes out of this race well. We’ve got a few ideas in our head, but one step at a time. He showed up once again today and we’ve just got to keep him going and keep him happy and healthy.”
Live racing resumes Friday at Saratoga with a 10-race card featuring the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) in race 7 and the $200,000 Troy (G3) presented by Horse Racing Ireland in race 9. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.
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