Why Diodoro is pointing Keepmeinmind to the Ohio Derby

Why Diodoro is pointing Keepmeinmind to the Ohio Derby
Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

The last we heard from Robertino Diodoro, he was considering switching Keepmeinmind to turf in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational.

That was in late May, after the Laoban colt finished fourth in the Preakness and his connections had opted not to run him in the Belmont Stakes.

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Explaining the decision to skip the Belmont Derby, Diodoro told Horse Racing Nation at the time, "We decided, why push him? He's a big 3-year-old. We believe he'll get better with time."

Diodoro told HRN on Tuesday that this also was one of the factors behind his decision to enter Keepmeinmind in Saturday's Ohio Derby (G3) instead of making the switch to turf after running on the dirt for all his eight career starts.

In a telephone interview from Hot Springs, Ark., Diodoro noted that one of Keepmeinmind's owners is Spendthrift Farm, along with Cypress Creek Equine and Arnold Bennewith, so the colt's breeding future also is part of the equation when choosing races.

"I don't think it's going to do any value to them to win a turf race," he said. "At the same time, I would like to see the horse on the grass, try him. But you know, he's training great at Belmont right now, of course on the dirt, and let's see what happens on Saturday."

Diodoro was pleased with Keepmeinmind's Preakness effort, where he finished behind only Rombauer, Midnight Bourbon and Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

"I thought it was a very speed-biased track that day," Diodoro said. "And he was one of the few horses that was still running at the end. We were happy to come out of the race good. And you always want to run better than fourth, but we were pleased with him. And I keep saying, with some time he's going to get better. He's still a big baby. As the year goes on, I think he's going to develop into a better horse."

Diodoro said the Ohio Derby had been a consideration for some time because of the timing and the not-so-strong competition – though he said "there's still some nice horses in the race, for sure."

Keepmeinmind drew post 8 for Saturday's race and is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1. The early favorite is Promise Keeper at 7-2 with King Fury the third choice at 9-2.

The colt has not finished in the money in four starts this year, also finishing fifth in the Blue Grass (G2) and sixth in the Rebel (G2). His lone win in eight starts came in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in November.

At Thistledown, Diodoro said, "we need some pace to run at. We've got the blinkers back on him Saturday, which I think will help him break. Ever since we took the blinkers off, he's kind of breaking slower and slower. And at the same time, I don't think he'll change his running style."

He would like to see Keepmeinmind near the back, "and hopefully we can get a few guys to make a good pace to run."

Keepmeinmind might be a "big baby," but Diodoro said that "of all the horses I've trained, from 2-year-olds to 10-year-olds, he can be one of the toughest horses. He loves his job. And he's a very strong horse – in the mornings, he's very tough. I always say most good horses love their job, so I think that sometimes divides them from claiming horses to the better horses. He just loves to train.

"He behaves himself, but he just pulls and pulls and pulls. We tried different equipment on him. The further you go, the stronger he gets on you. Again, like I said, he loves his job."

2021 Ohio Derby (G3)

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