When I came across Diamond Joe for the first time, he was riding a six race winning streak going into the 2012 meet at Horsemen’s Park. It had taken him five tries to break his maiden, but he finally did, and after a second in a Fonner allowance earlier that March, he had been virtually unbeatable. “Joe” was the talk of the track that summer afternoon, and people were anxious to see Chuck Turco’s big chestnut gelding in action.
He did not disappoint. Breaking from post 5 in the Skunktail Stakes, limited to three year-olds, he sat off the pace before pouncing on the far turn, romping down to the finish line as easy as could be. I stood by the fence, clutching the top as the chestnut sailed by me, head held high in the aftermath of his triumph. I had never seen a horse at our little bullring track run like he did that day.
Now Diamond Joe has 29 starts under his belt, with 15 wins and 5 seconds. His winning streak was snapped three races later, when he finished last in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. Not the softest of company, though; do you know who finished ahead of him that day? Politicallycorrect. Willy Beamin. Called to Serve, who many fancy today at Oaklawn. Suns Out Guns Out. Prospective. Daddy Nose Best.
But Joe is like the Lava Man of Nebraska – he does much better when he’s home in the Cornhusker State. He most recently scored a victory in the Ogataul Stakes at Fonner, and is looking for a repeat win in the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes. Want some perspective? Joy Boy, who finished third behind Joe in that race last year, beat Bourbon Courage in an allowance today at Oaklawn Park.
Diamond Joe was bred to be spectacular. His sire, fellow Nebraska-bred Dazzling Falls, won stakes races all over the country, and took Chuck Turco to the Kentucky Derby after a win in the Arkansas Derby of 1995. He finished 13th behind Thunder Gulch that day, and after just six more starts, was retired to stud back in Nebraska. He is now one of the best sires in the state, getting stakes winners like Ittakestwobaby, Sugardazzle, and Ms. Bumper – names that should ring familiar in the ears of Nebraska racing fans. Dazzling Falls is a full-brother to the nice racemare Falls Amiss, who has a stakes named after her at Horsemen’s Park.
Joe’s dam, Diamond Road, was also a Nebraska-bred stakes winner, banking a respectable $108,645 in 51 starts. Her sire, Tarsal, was bred by Live Oak Stud and only made five starts on the track. This female family is solid Cornhusker – you have to go down to Diamond Joe’s fourth dam, Pretty Pebble, to find a Kentucky-bred in the dam line. His fifth dam, Paralysis, made 160 starts in eight years. And you’d have to go back even further to see that Diamond Joe is from a particular branch of Family 20-c that also gave us Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Twilight Ridge and multiple graded stakes winner Tri Jet.
It’s worth noting that Diamond Joe is inbred through the third generation to Prince Astro, a multiple stakes winner at tracks like Sunland, Oaklawn, and old Ak-Sar-Ben.
Will Diamond Joe successfully defend his title in the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes this April? That remains to be seen, but I know that I will be one of the first on the rail, eagerly awaiting another chance to see Nebraska’s big red darling romp against overmatched competition.