Broadway Empire Update

Broadway Empire in Canterbury paddock prior to Mystic Lake Mile
Broadway Empire in Canterbury paddock prior to Mystic Lake Mile

At one point Saturday track veterans were decrying the weather and the untimely arrival of heavy rain that significantly reduced attendance and all but destroyed the two feature races.

Yet there was still the anticipation of seeing Broadway Empire, who ran sixth against some of the top horses in the game in the Metropolitan Mile and was making his first appearance since as the odds-on favorite in the second running of the Mystic Lake Mile.

The switch from the drenched grass to dirt was not an issue. Broadway had never run on the grass before, and everyone knows what he can do on the dirt.

Even with multiple scratches from the Lady Canterbury and Mystic Lake Mile there was still that factor. “Well, at least we get to see Broadway,” fans agreed.

Then, just moments before the horses loaded into the gate came the news on the public address system that Broadway Empire had been scratched.

Speculation traveled fast. He was lame. Minutes earlier he was kicking and doing his thing in the paddock in anticipation of running. Now he was lame?

He certainly looked lame a number of horsemen agreed.

At one point trainer Robertino Diodoro feared the horse had broken a bone in his leg. “He was just standing and couldn’t move.”

Rider Scott Stevens gave Broadway every opportunity to straighten himself out as they awaited the signal to load. The horse didn’t provide conclusive evidence.

“It was strange,” said Diodoro. “He was good. Then he was bad. OK then he wasn’t. Back and forth like that.”

Under those conditions everyone agreed Stevens had done the right thing. You don’t take a chance in that situation.

“I felt bad for Scott,” said Diodoro, who clearly had a multitude of people and things to feel bad about.

Then, Broadway kicked and squealed all the way back to the barn. “I thought he was going to run away from the handlers,” Diodoro said. “We still got an X-ray of the foot, to be sure,” said Diodoro. “Nothing was wrong.”

Broadway Empire is OK. So what exactly was wrong with him during the post parade and shortly before?

Well, Diodoro has a theory. There is a small hole near the coronet on Broadway Empire’s right front foot. “I don’t know, maybe sand gets in there and irritates it and then gets cleared out,” he said. “The same thing happened to him in the Canadian Derby and then he went out and wins by six lengths. It’s an old quirk.”

So on Sunday, despite the emotional hangover from Saturday’s letdown, there was good news in the Diodoro barn. As handlers and others connected to the horse made their personal peace with Saturday’s unfortunate event, there was the comforting news that Broadway Empire is OK and will run again.

When is still a question for consideration according to Diodoro.



Broadway Empire in Mystic Lake Mile

Broadway Empire - wells

The horses had departed the paddock for the racetrack on a recent afternoon when another one seemed to appear out of nowhere, circling the oval at the hand of an assistant trainer, on his toes one minute, then back at a gentle walk whenever his handler shook the lead rope.

 The horse in question was Broadway Empire. He was being schooled, and a few remaining onlookers began paying attention.

“He just looks like a real racehorse,” said media relations director Jeff Maday.

“Sometimes they just have that appearance.”

 Broadway certainly does have a certain air about him that commands attention and respect, the suggestion that he’s the man and he knows it.

 “He acts like it’s his world and the rest of us are just living in it,” said paddock analyst Angela Hermann, one of the onlookers. “He’s certainly no cupcake.”

Not by any stretch.

 Broadway Empire is a four-year-old gelded son of Empire Maker ( a son of Unbridled, by the way) and the mare Broadway Hoofer. He has raced a mere 11 times and is 6-1-0 with total earnings of $474,491.

 He will make his first start on grass Saturday in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile and is favored to increase his career bank account by, oh, around $60,000, the winner’s share of the pot.

 “He’s one classy dude,” said his most recent rider, Scott Stevens, who has been on Broadway in two of his last three outs, the most recent a sixth place finish in the Metropolitan Mile against some very classy competition, including Breeders’ Cup winner Goldencents and Belmont Stakes winner Palice Malice.

 Stevens knows just what to expect from Broadway each time he hits the racetrack. “He’s a professional racehorse. He gives you everything he has and he’s just naturally fast. It’s nothing you have to make him do.”

 Broadway has some quirks but they are not evident once during a race.

 “He relaxes then,” said Stevens. “Even when he’s running fast, he’s relaxing.”

Broadway’s athletic ability has been well documented. He commands attention also for his appearance. He exceeds 16 hands in height, has solid conformation and a certain regal look in his bay coat.

 “He’s really a good looking horse,” said Hermann.

 Despite his professional attitude on the track, he gets constant attention to detail, constant schooling in the aspects of his trade, simply to keep his mind focused.

 “He was a little high strung in the paddock at Belmont (before the Met Mile) but once he reaches the track he’s all business,” Stevens added.

 Broadway came to the racetrack at age two, as part of a package sent to the Arizona desert.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro received six horses from California to evaluate and wound up keeping three. Broadway was one of them.

 “They were all decent horses,” Diodoro said. “Two of them were claimed from me.”

 As for those bad habits.

 “He’s a bit quirky,” said Diodoro. “He can be a handful in the paddock and has once or twice in the post parade. That’s one of the reasons we’ve kept him with Kent (Knudsen). He’s a good hand and has been everywhere with that horse.”

 Broadway was not destined for the claiming ranks like his two stablemates, not after breaking his maiden at first asking in impressive fashion at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

 “He won by 16 ½ lengths,” said Kent Knudsen, assistant to Diodoro and the man in charge of Broadway’s daily care. “He won that one in 1:07, about a tenth of a second off Lost in the Fog’s track record. He won the Canadian Derby by three lengths, sitting off the pace on a deep, sloppy track. He won the Oklahoma Derby by four.”

 Knudsen has been with Broadway every step of the way and agrees that the horse is indeed full of himself. “At Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup he just stood in front of the cameras, in front of everybody. The photographers were trying to get shots of Game On Dude and horses like that but he just stood there and pinned his ears. He’s a real showoff.”

 Imagine his temperament before the gelding process.

“He was really green when he came to the track, a real handful,” said Knudsen. “He was a stud colt when he arrived at two and he came off that trailer bucking, kicking and squealing. The first time I worked him he was all over the track and didn’t work fast enough to get a time.”

 Broadway began to focus once he was gelded but he still requires blinkers when he works. They come off when he races. “He trains in the morning with them. Otherwise he wants to gawk and look around,” Knudsen said. “He wore them in the first time he ran in Phoenix but we took them off when he ran in Canada.”

 They will be off for his first race on the grass, as well.

He might act up a little bit in the paddock. He might prance a little in the post parade. But in his third and closing act he will run his heart out, finishing what is best described as the definitive Broadway show.



Broadway Empire back in Shakopee

Broadway Empire

The rider was back on the job locally Sunday but wiped out on Monday. The horse was back in the barn on Monday and jogged for the first time on Thursday.

The trainer?

He’ll be back on the job locally late Friday night.

All concerned agree that the experience was well worth the effort..

Broadway Empire finished sixth in the Grade I $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile on the Belmont Stakes card last weekend, and trainer Robertino Diodoro says that experience was good for the horse, for the rider, Scott Stevens, for his owners and even for the trainer himself.

“For sure,” Diodoro said. “It was a good experience for all of us.”

Now, the fans at Canterbury Park who rooted for Broadway Empire will get another opportunity, this time in person. Diodoro said he plans to run the gelded son of Empire Maker on July 12 in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile in Shakopee.

“He jogged for the first time on Thursday morning,” Diodoro said. “He shipped really well and came back in great shape. We’re planning next on the Mystic Lake Mile on the 12th.”

Diodoro spoke from Santa Anita where he has a stable of 25 horses and was spending a couple of days this week, but his main base this summer is Canterbury Park where he has in excess of 50 horses and plans to rejoin them Friday night.

He was the leading trainer at Turf Paradise in Phoenix last winter and vowed during that meet to make up for what he termed a terrible debut at Canterbury Park last year. “Nothing went right,” he said.”I didn’t have the right horses and those that were right got sick or weren’t ready to run.”

All of that has changed this summer. Diodoro started 46 horses at Canterbury last summer, won a mere seven races and finished in the money a total of 19 times with earnings of $106,350. He has exceeded everything but number of starters and third place finishes in the first 14 days of racing (through Sunday) this year with nine wins, six seconds, four thirds and earnings of $140,572.

Shakopee is Diodoro’s home base this year by design, and he based the decision on what he likes about Canterbury in addition to the solid purse structure guaranteed by the agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“Canterbury is a good spot. The purses are good and the atmosphere is great,” Diodoro said. “You can’t beat the live attendance. It really makes you feel like you’re at the races when walking in or leaving the paddock.”

There is more.

“Paul Allen does a great job, especially, with the young crowd. And with Angela (Hermann) in the paddock, that’s a pretty darn good team to get people involved. PA gets them wound up, and Angela deals out all the information.”

Now Diodoro will get Broadway Empire back in the mix on July 12, and Stevens once again is the likely rider after a solid effort at Belmont.

“Scott did a good job. The horse ran the best he could and now I probably have to take a step down with him. Those were some really good horses he ran against.”

Without saying…

The winner was Palace Malice, a winner of well over $2 million and four graded races including the 2013 Grade I Belmont Stakes. He finished a length in front of Goldencents, the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile winner last autumn.

Stevens, for his part, would do it all over again, despite giving up what he figured were five wins at Canterbury during the trip to New York.

“I’d do it all again for that experience,” he said. “There was no embarrassment with that horse. He ran really well.”

Afterward, Stevens had a front-row seat for the Belmont Stakes _ box 1, seat 1, directly in front of the finish line, from where he watched the race with his sister-in-law Angie and five-year-old niece Maddie, wife and daughter to brother Gary.

There was a price to pay for the experience nonetheless. “It took forever to get out of there afterward,” Stevens said, “so it was a late night. And I had fly back early Sunday morning to ride on the (Canterbury) card here. Monday was all a blur.”

Still a sixth-place finish in a $1.25 million race isn’t all that bad financially. It was worth around $35,000 to Broadway’s stable. “Everybody made money but the rider,” Stevens said whimsically. “I gave up some winning mounts here, but I’d do it all again _ in a minute.”

He’ll get another shot on Broadway Empire on July 12.

 by Jim Wells

Stevens Ready For Belmont

stevens ready for belmont

It’s a whirlwind trip, really, a two-day excursion that despite its brevity will take a special place in the library of memories his career has become. Gone Friday morning and back by Sunday a.m. to ride that afternoon’s card.

 From Canterbury Park to Belmont Park in a 48-hour swing that places him in an opening act to horse racing’s biggest production of the day, surely the summer and conceivably even the last 36 years. Scott Stevens, the dean of Canterbury’s jockey colony, will ride in Saturday’s Grade I, $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile on the undercard to the Belmont Stakes, in which California Chrome is poised to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and thereby join a pantheon of racing deity comprised of a mere 11 horses.

 It’s a lot to fathom in a single thought, every bit as hard to swallow in a single gulp and almost too much to hope for in a single wish _ a win in the Met Mile on the same day that racing immortality is struck?

 “I’m excited,” said Stevens. “I really am.”

 Why not. Stevens, 53, has never been to New York so that spectacle awaits him, but he is not going for the mere experience of participating in the richest race of his career. He has said emphatically that he plans on winning the race with Broadway Empire.

 Yet he’s in tough and he knows it. The 13-horse field has drawn a few luminaries including the 8-5 favorite Palace Malice who provided trainer Todd Pletcher with a narrow win over this very same track one year ago at 13-1 odds in the Belmont Stakes and later added the Jim Dandy to his resume. He’s bargaining for more this summer, having romped in the May 17 Grade III Westchester Stakes and has been installed as high weight at 124 pounds.

 The talented field (would you expect otherwise with $1.25 million at stake?) includes 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldencents, who also won the Santa Anita Derby last year.

Stevens, of course, is not the only Canterbury Park regular in New York for this race. Trainer Robertino Diodoro will be there as well to saddle his hopeful in the race. Broadway Empire is a 20-1 outside choice in the morning line. He won the Canadian Derby and the Oklahoma Derby last year and finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile

 The horse left Canterbury Park for New York on Tuesday to begin acclimating himself to the Belmont track. Stevens was certain Broadway was on schedule the last time he worked him and has gotten positive reports on Broadway’s works in New York. “He’s doing real well there and is training good, too. He’s ready to roll.”

 As for Stevens himself, he regards racing as racing, be it on the big oval in New York or the homier conditions in Shakopee. He will get an early chance to examine the Belmont surface for himself with a mount in the first race on the Belmont Stakes card.

That should provide him with what he needs to know about the surface and what to expect from it.

 He has to forgo some mounts he considers winners on the Friday and Saturday cards at Canterbury, but considers the loss a fair exchange for the gain. “I’m not passing this (chance) up,” he said.

 Diodoro has the utmost confidence in horse and rider. “The horse has been training really well,” he said. ‘And Scott? You couldn’t ask for a better veteran rider.”

 If you believe in such things and are looking for a nugget of information, a longshot handicapping tip, a hidden gem of sorts, this tidbit might fit the bill:

Funny Cide ran on this very same track, trying to complete the Triple Crown in 2003, and was beaten by his archrival Empire Maker. Yup, Broadway Empire’s daddy.

by Jim Wells


Scott Stevens to ride Broadway Empire in Met Mile at Belmont


 Broadway Empire - 04-12-14 - R06 - TUP - Finish600x300         


       It’s not the Belmont Stakes but it’s part of the same card and it does have a nice ring to it.           

  How does $1. 25 million sound?  

Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens will ride Broadway Empire, trained by Canterbury conditioner Robertino Diodoro, in the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap known as the Met Mile, for the richest purse in his career on a day when the Triple Crown will be at stake, on a stakes-loaded card worth $8 million.           

            Stevens is elated at the opportunity and handicaps it this way: “The Empire State building is in New York and so is Broadway. Everything matches up.” 

            Stevens was in a jocular mood for good reason. He  worked the horse in Phoenix and was on him when he won in allowance company there. His brother Gary got the mount, however, when Broadway Empire ran at Churchill Downs in Grade II company on the Kentucky Derby card earlier this month. But Scott gets the call for the horse’s second Classic card race. 

            Sunday night’s airing on HRTV on Scott might have had something to do with the owners’ change of hearts. In any event, Scott is delighted and Gary is, too. “He really is. We talked for 45 minutes,” Scott said.                       

            “Gary seems genuinely happy about Scott getting the mount. And I know those two are really close as brothers,” said Diodoro. The HRTV piece couldn’t have said it better.           Watch the HRTV story here.



            “Gary picked up another mount,” Scott said. “So we’re riding together for the first time since 1998 at Del Mar .”           

            Stevens has ridden in Grade I races, on Great Communicator, but his biggest purse to date is $500,000. “I was on Real Quiet in the Indian Nations Futurity and on Great Communicator at Hollywood Park in the 1980s,” he recalled. “And I rode in the Sunland Park Derby.” So, this is indeed the opportunity of a career for the 53-year-old Stevens. 

            Broadway Empire won the Canadian Derby and the Oklahoma Derby last year and finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Stevens truly believes he has a shot in the upcoming race.           

            “This horse is extremely, extremely talented,” he said. “He has tactical speed. If the pace is slow, he can be on the lead.  If it’s fast, he doesn’t mind settling in right behind the leaders. I truly believe he has a heck of a shot.” 

            Broadway Empire got into traffic trouble in the race on Derby Day and ran fourth.

            “I was so bummed,” Scott said.

            That’s because he knows what this fellow can do. “I had been working him since he came back this year,” Stevens said. “He did a 14 flat for 6 1/2 in Phoenix. He’s very, very fast.” 

            He knew that the first time he saw him race. “He broke his maiden in Phoenix and won by 12 with Geovanni Franco riding him,” he explained.  

            Diodoro’s cell phone began lighting up once word got out that Scott was going to ride the horse for him in New York. “I began getting texts and messages from Phoenix. Everybody was excited,” said Diodoro, who owns 51 percent of the horse.           

            The decision to use Scott in this race came about as Diodoro and a friend were driving down Highway 169 near the track. Diodoro was thinking about the race and began making calls to the other owners. Everyone agreed.”      

            “This is a weird horse,” Diodoro said. “But he seems to relax with Scott. He can work this horse.”           

            “He’s working as good as he ever has,” said Stevens, with this addendum: 

            “I’m not going to New York just to be there,” he said. “I’m going there to win.”

 by Jim Wells