Walk down the shedrow in Rusty Arnold’s stable at Keeneland and you’ll find racetrack veteran A Diehl.
A Diehl hasn’t won any significant graded stakes races or broken any track records. He is noteworthy because he’s been a part of Arnold’s string even before he made his career debut as a 2-year-old in September 2007 at Saratoga. Now 8, A Diehl is not only still in training but finding success at the stakes level.
“This is the longest we’ve ever had one,” Arnold said on a recent late spring day from his barn at Keeneland’s Rice Road training complex. “He’s like our barn pet. He kind of owns the place, or at least he thinks he does.”
A Diehl’s latest success came in the J. Kenneth Self Shelby County Boys and Girls Club Stakes at Indiana Downs, a race he also won last year to become a stakes winner at the sprite age of 7. The Aldebaran gelding was winless in six stakes tries prior to last year’s Boys and Girls Club.
A Diehl is lightly raced-only 38 career starts over seven seasons-due largely to chronic ankle problems, which Arnold actually says “made his career longer.” A Diehl started his career with eight losses, finally winning going 7 furlongs on Keeneland’s Polytrack in the fall of his 3-year-old campaign. There were doubts about the gelding back then, obvious questions that come in the wake of loss after loss.
Arnold said even after A Diehl broke his maiden, he was still searching for the gelding’s niche that would help his longevity on the racetrack.
“He didn’t run on turf at 3 or 4,” he said. “As a 6-year-old we put him on the grass and we think that probably helped him. His ankles have seemed to have healed up quite well since we made that move.”
The first grass start came in the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland, where he finished seventh of 12 going 5 1/2 furlongs. After going back to the main track for four starts, A Diehl went back to grass and won a May 7, 2012 allowance at Indiana Downs. He’s won three times in his most recent seven starts on turf.
No plans are in the works though to try graded company in the near future.
“He would have to go on and do a little more for me before I would do that,” Arnold said. “We’ll stay right here in non-graded stakes unless he were to win a couple in a row, but not in the near future.”
Arnold said A Diehl would more than likely make his next start in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile going a mile on grass July 13 at Canterbury Park.
As for plans when the half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Clear Mandate can no longer compete at the level he’s at right now, Arnold offered a simple retirement plan.
“When the day comes to where we he can’t perform at that level, we plan on making a stable pony out of him,” he said.