Diamond Digger stays perfect at Assiniboia

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Diamond Digger and Stanley Chadee Jr. cruise to the wire in Monday’s Osiris Stakes. J. Halstead/Assiniboia Photo.

By Tom Law

Michael Nault took one look at some photos and video of Hip 545, a New York-bred colt by Violence selling on the second day of last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale and knew what to do.

“This is the horse you want right here,” Nault told Nolan Allard, who heads up the Canadian partnership The Young And The Rest Of Us that has raced at Assiniboia Downs in Manitoba and Century Mile in Alberta since 2018. “We look for that, horses that fit up here. If somebody shows me a horse and if I don’t like I won’t recommend we buy it. But if they do something to me, then I say, ‘this is the one I want.’ ”

Allard bought the colt, now a gelding and named Diamond Digger, for $2,000. Diamond Digger continued to show he was worth that and more Monday when he improved to 3-for-3 in the $35,000 Osiris Stakes at Assiniboia Downs. He won by 3 3/4 lengths under Stanley Chadee Jr., collecting $17,236 (U.S.) to boost his earnings to $41,897.

“I loved it, obviously,” Nault said of Diamond Digger’s latest score. “The one thing I liked about it was the other horse tried to hook him and he put him away. The other horse was scrubbing and he was just sitting there idling until they turned for home. Once they turned for home and as soon as my rider asked him at the eighth pole, he took off.”

Thirsty Ears and jockey Neville Stephenson took the initiative early, hustling to the front and ahead of the 1-9 favorite Diamond Digger through the opening quarter in :23.60. Diamond Digger glided past the early leader around the bend, was in front by the three-eighths pole and past the half in :47.80. He and Chadee opened up by 1 1/2 lengths in the lane before drawing clear late to win in 1:07.20.

Diamond Digger came into the Osiris off a 7 ¾-length win in his debut July 21 and a 5 ¼-length score in the Graduation Stakes Aug. 4, both at Assiniboia. He figures to show up next in the $35,000 Winnipeg Futurity at 6 furlongs Sept. 8, with a larger goal down the road.

Trainer Michael Nault (right), assistant trainer Hanna Dilts (center) and jockey Stanley Chadee Jr. celebrate Diamond Digger’s latest victory Monday. J. Halstead/Assiniboia Photo.

“He’ll go in there and from there we’ll probably send him to Arizona for the winter,” Nault said. “I used to go there, too, but I’m not going to this year because of Covid and everything. We’re going to send him to another guy you might know, Don Schnell. He’ll go with him for the winter. We’ll keep him in Arizona, train him lightly, maybe run him a few times and get him back here. If he’s what we think he’s going to be he’s our Manitoba Derby horse for next year.”

The Manitoba Derby goes for a $100,000 purse in early August. By then Nault expects even more from the gelding out of the Pulpit mare Prayer Bell.

“He’s still tall and gangly, about 16 2, but he’s going to fill out,” he said. “If he develops and everything, stays healthy and things keep going right he’ll be a Class A horse up here.”

Bred and foaled at Dr. Jon Davis’ Milfer Farm in Unadilla, Diamond Digger was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale by Legacy Bloodstock.

He’s the third foal out of Prayer Bell, a maiden winner at Keeneland in 2014 for trainer Charlie LoPresti. She sold in foal to Lookin At Lucky for $70,000 to Winchester Farm at the 2015 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, and the subsequent foal named Lookin At Liberty sold for $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. He went 2-2-1 in nine starts and earned $91,850 racing in Kentucky in 2020.

Prayer Bell’s second foal, the Verrazano filly Chic Bella, sold for $30,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale and $50,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-olds in training sale.

Prayer Bell went through the Keeneland ring one more time, in 2018 at the November sale in foal carrying Diamond Digger in utero, and sold to Milfer Farm for $57,000.

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