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Laki Rises to Occasion in $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley Win
Lone Dirt Sprint on Saturday’s Spring Stakes Spectacular Card
BALTIMORE – Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Grade 3 winner Laki, coming off a brief freshening, ran down multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Lebda inside the eighth pole and edged clear to a half-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley at Pimlico Race Course.
The ninth running of the six-furlong Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up was the second of six stakes worth $650,000 in purses on an 11-race Spring Stakes Spectacular program headlined by the $125,000 Federico Tesio, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 15, and the $125,000 Weber City Miss, a ‘Win and In’ event for 3-year-old fillies to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 14.
With regular rider Horacio Karamanos aboard for trainer Damon Dilodovico, Laki ($10.20) completed the distance in 1:09.33 over a fast main track for his 11th career win from 32 starts, pushing his lifetime earnings over the $800,000 mark.
The 6-year-old Cuba gelding has raced his entire career for Dilodovico, and over the years has grown close to his wife and assistant, Christine. Laki gave the Dilodovicos their first graded-stakes victory in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial (G3) last fall, also at Pimlico.
Laki has now won at least one stakes race each of the last five years, including the 2019 Whiteley.
“He means everything to us…the whole stable,” Dilodovico said. “He’s our cornerstone.”
Winner of the Miracle Wood and Private Terms in back-to-back starts last winter as a 3-year-old at Laurel, Lebda was sent to the lead by jockey J.D. Acosta and held it through a quarter-mile in 23.33 seconds and a half in 45.55, with Laki tracking intently. The two straightened for home in front, going five-eighths in 57.15 before a stubborn Lebda finally yielded to his more experienced rival.
Lebda’s Claudio Gonzalez-trained stablemate Eastern Bay was 4 ¼ lengths back in third, a head in front of Arthur’s Hope. Whereshetoldmetogo, the 4-5 favorite, ran last of nine to snap a three-stakes win streak.
Laki was making his first start since running third in the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 20 at Laurel Park. Since then, Laurel has seen its racing and training disrupted by an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) quarantine and currently an ongoing evaluation and renovation of the main track, which caused the Spring Stakes Spectacular program to be transferred to Pimlico.
“It’s been a crazy month for all of us horsemen here in the state. For him to do what he did, I just can’t put it together,” Dilodovico said. “The last race we ran him he was letting me know he wasn’t 100 percent. Not unsound, he just has a way about him. So, the rest was definitely warranted and it paid off.”