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“Thank you very much…we’re surprised…”

That’s as far as Harvey Diamond had gotten.

The co-owner of Somelikeithotbrown had made his reservations for the awards dinner in Saratoga and was ready to recite his opening lines of his acceptance speech for the 3-year-old championship. Instead, he was answering calls from an unknown area code and talking about a horse who is always fun to talk about, especially during a pandemic.

“You know what, it’s better than talking about you know what,” Diamond said March 24. “I’m sitting at home, at my desk scratching my head, wondering if I should answer a call from Wilmington, Delaware.”

While social distancing, calls from unknown numbers are taken more frequently. In a crazy, upside-down world, journalists can be tonic for the soul. OK, perhaps, a nice distraction.

“Hey, you’re a positive, wanting to talk about one of my favorite subjects,” Diamond said. “I’m waiting for the trophies and I’m sorry we can’t get together this year.”

The 2-year-old champion in 2018, Somelikeithotbrown garnered his second championship on the back of two early stakes scores. The son of Big Brown trounced open stakes horses in the John Battaglia Memorial, a listed stakes for 3-year-olds over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park in February. Three weeks later, the bay colt came right back to do it again, walloping Grade 3 stakes horses in the Jeff Ruby at Turfway.

Those two races stirred Derby Fever and trainer Mike Maker aimed Somelikeithotbrown to the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland in April. He finished fourth in a return to the dirt. Unfortunately, that was it for 2019 as a hind leg injury forced him to the sidelines.

“I didn’t expect him to win the 3-year-old championship this year because he bowed out so quickly, but I guess the fact that he was running in open competition moved him up,” Diamond said. “We have a number of horses but at that time, he was our best. It’s like losing your star running back. It was a tremendous blow, a blow spiritually, economically, you name it. Going into the Blue Grass, we were hoping he would get enough points to put us into the Derby. But you have to accept things for what they are.”

Diamond and partners accepted it and decided time was the best healer, scrapping the season and aiming at 2020.

“We gave him a lot of time off so hopefully that would ensure him coming back in good shape,” Diamond said.

Somelikeithotbrown returned this winter with a disappointing run over the Gulfstream Park turf in January. A month later, Diamond and Maker went back to what worked, returning to win an allowance race at Turfway. Three weeks later, Somelikeithotbrown finished second in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway.

“If they were running on the grass in New York we would have run him there but we brought him back and ran him in the Kentucky Cup,” Diamond said. “He tried to break through the gate and they got him straightened up but as soon as they did, they opened the gate, he broke a little bit slow, he was outside, he got parked outside around the first turn and ran pretty much outside pretty much the whole way. He was gaining ground at the end. All things considered, it was a good race for him and we’ll move on from there.”

No one knows what moving on looks like in March 2020.

“New York is basically shut down and listening to (Governor) Cuomo he’s not going to open anything soon,” Diamond said. “It’s just the fate of all of us at the moment, just waiting to see what’s next.”

Somelikeithotbrown was bred by Hot Pink Stables and co-owner Sand Dollar Stable and foaled at Sequel Stallions New York. Dam Marilyn Monroan, a daughter of Tapit, failed to win a race in eight starts but has made amends as a broodmare. She produced the 3-year-old stakes-placed colt, Jolting Joe, and has a 2-year-old by Temple City and a yearling by Palace Malice.

“She’s been a very nice producer,” Diamond said. “It’s amazing to us that we’ve had this much luck and we’re still trying. Hopefully things will smooth out and we’ll get another chance. As I tell my partners, this horse makes up for a lot of mistakes that I’ve made.”

Somelikeithotbrown
B. c. 2016, Big Brown–Marilyn Monroan, Tapit.
Breeder: Hot Pink Stable & Sand Dollar Stable. 
Owner: Skychai Racing & Sand Dollar Stable. 
Trainer: Mike Maker. 
2019 record: 3-2-0-0. $211,665. 2019 stakes: Battaglia Memorial, Jeff Ruby (G3).

 

Download the 2019 NYTB Awards Dinner program

NYTB published the winners on the organization’s website (https://www.nytbreeders.org/) and social media channels on the original date of the event. At the same time, NYTB launched a microsite at nytbawards.com to host a video presentation produced by PM Advertising featuring the top performances of all nominees and showcasing the winners. 

 

Other 3-year-old male finalists:

Bankit
B.c. 2016, Central Banker–Sister In Arms, Colonel John.
Breeder: Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing.
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen.
2019 record: 8-1-1-1. $208,200. After early-season races on the Kentucky Derby trail, won the New York Derby at Finger Lakes in July.

Blindwillie McTell
B.c. 2016, Posse–Bold Child, Flatter.
Breeder/Owner: Jerold Zaro.
Trainer: Linda Rice.
2019 record: 5-2-1-0. $181,850. Stakes wins in the Rego Park at Aqueduct in January and Mike Lee at Belmont in May fueled strong season. Named for blues/ragtime singer and guitarist whose first recording came in 1927, and is the subject of a 1983 Bob Dylan tribute song.

Dugout
Gr.g. 2016, Adios Charlie–Rooney Doodle, Lit de Justice.
Breeder: Larry Rivelli and Richard Ravin.
Owner: Richard Ravin, Patricia’s Hope and Larry Rivelli.
Trainer: Larry Rivelli.
2019 record: 6-3-2-0. $204,890. Well-traveled gelding pushed career earnings to $477,385 with wins at Arlington, Hawthorne and Mahoning Valley, the last in a stakes. California-bred mare has also produced Illinois-bred star Jean Elizabeth.

Funny Guy
B.c. 2016, Big Brown–Heavenly Humor, Distorted Humor.
Breeder: Hibiscus Stable.
Owner: Gatsas Stable, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable.
Trainer: John Terranova.
2019 record: 8-2-4-0. $352,925. Victories in the New York Stallion Series in April and Albany in August and three stakes placings powered season. Dam won stakes in California.

Not That Brady
Ch.g. 2016, Big Brown–Lisa’s Booby Trap, Drewman.
Breeder: KatieRich Farm.
Owner: Michael Imperio, Lianna Stable, R.A. Hill Stable, Rudy Rodriguez.
Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez. 8-0-3-0. $161,720. Winless, but placed in Grade 3 Withers and New York Derby. Dam won 10 races, nine at Finger Lakes plus the 2010 Loudonville Stakes at Saratoga.

Rinaldi
B.g. 2016, Posse–Dynamite Cocktail, Dynaformer.
Breeder: Barry Ostrager.
Owner: Bond Racing Stable. 
Trainer: H. James Bond. 4-2-0-1. $185,640. Unraced at 2, $5,000 weanling purchase landed New York Stallion Series stakes to break maiden in June, then added another in dominant fashion at Saratoga. Fourth in Grade 3 Saranac in late August.