Black Diamond Cat Breaks the Bank in Housebuster
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Black Diamond Cat had gone to post 11 times at Gulfstream Park in the past and nothing seemed to go his way. With only a second and two thirds to show for his efforts, the 6-year-old gelding finally found ideal conditions Saturday to propel him to his first victory at the Hallandale Beach track, as well as the most lucrative triumph of his 49-race career.
Sent to post at 19-1 for the $115,000 Housebuster Stakes, Black Diamond Cat found a perfect stalking trip under jockey Jilver Chamafi and a wet racing surfaced very much to his liking on his way to a 2 ¼-length upset over a field that included Grade1 stakes-winners Jackson Bend and Swagger Jack.
“The weather really helped him and the way the race set up. (An off track) has helped him in the past,” said trainer Larry Bates of the pre-race rain that changed the track condition from fast to good. “He nickers when it rains.”
Black Diamond Cat has been a consistent local performer for the past several years, hammering out earnings in excess of $325,000 with seven wins and 11 places, but the Florida-bred son of Wildcat Heir enjoyed a career moment in the seven-furlong Housebuster.
“He’s such an honest horse. That’s a lovely field that was behind him. He’s a little underrated but we think a lot of him,” said Bates, who trains the gritty gelding for Bluestone Thoroughbreds LLC. “It’s great that he’s getting a little recognition. A horse like him keeps you going.”
Chamafi positioned Black Diamond Cat just behind the pace set by Artefacto and stalked by Apriority along the backstretch and around the turn into the homestretch. Put down for the drive leaving the turn, Black Diamond Cat kicked in with a powerful run to draw away through the stretch.
“Everything went perfect. He broke good and everything was fine,” said Chamafi, who visited the winner’s circle three times Saturday. “The only thing the trainer told me was not to fight him too much.”
Black Diamond Cat, who earned $75,000 for his initial Gulfstream victory, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.93. Close It Out, ridden by Manoel Cruz, closed along the inside to finish second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Jackson Bend and jockey Jeffrey Sanchez. The second choice at 2-1, Jackson Bend saved ground in mid-pack before making an outside drive in the stretch that came up short. Swagger Jack, the 3-2 favorite ridden by Edgard Zayas, raced evenly to finish fourth, another two lengths back.
“We had a perfect trip,” Zayas said. “He just came up empty in the end.”
Black Diamond Cat, although overlooked by the bettors, tipped his hand to his trainer with a sharp half-mile workout in 47 seconds on Tuesday.
“I’d like to say he’s like a good whiskey,” Bates said. “He improves with age.”