Diodoro keeps feet grounded

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Keepmeinmind will spend the winter working at Oaklawn.

Robertino Diodoro may have one of the leading two-year-old’s in the United States on his hands but the trainer insists it remains ‘one step at a time’ for Keepmeinmind.

Diodoro hasn’t yet committed himself to a 2021 roadmap, but his charge is set to ship to Oaklawn before New Year to begin his preparations for a Classic campaign.

The $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes in late January, a one-mile event that is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races, is likely to be vetoed on account of the trip being too short.

Instead, the trainer is eyeing the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) in February over a mile-and-half-furlong as a potential starting point.

Keepmeinmind broke his maiden in the $200,000 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in late November at Churchill Downs, his fourth start. He had earlier finished second in the $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in October and third back there in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile early last month.

Keepmeinmind has already banked 18 points to rank second on the early Kentucky Derby leaderboard but his trainer isn’t about to get carried away.

“Just one step at a time,” Diodoro said. “It’s easier said than done, keeping these horses happy and healthy. It’s the same with all horses, but, obviously, our long-term plan is, hopefully, live the dream of being at Churchill in May. But that’s a ways out.”

Diodoro said Keepmeinmind has been in light training at WinStar Farm in Kentucky since his Jockey Club Stakes victory. The plan is to ship from there to Oaklawn before January 1st.

Future plans are going to be dictated by the way Keepmeinmind reacts to his training regime, the trainer insists.

“I won’t say anything. Let the horse tell us,” he added. “We’re not going to force anything. He came back really good out of his race and is doing well at WinStar, so we’ll just play it by ear.”

Diodoro, who has never had a Triple Crown starter, already has horses in training at Oaklawn so it will be a familiar route to take with Keepmeinmind.

Dreamer’s Disease, who finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is joining his stablemate in heading for Oaklawn. Both colts are by Laoban.

Dreamer’s Disease rounded off his two-year-old campaign with a luckless seventh in the $250,000 New York Stallion Series Stakes at Aqueduct this month, stumbling badly at the start in a race were he went off as favorite to win.

The trainer will be hoping at least one of this promising duo can make it to the ‘Run for the Roses’ come May.