Three Noses On Line: Laki Gets The Win In Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash

Giving Damon Dilodovico his first victory in a graded stakes in his 30th year training, Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki won a three-way photo finish with Eastern Bay and Nitrous in Saturday’s Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Pimlico in Baltimore, Md.

Under jockey Horacio Karamanos, Laki – a 7-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Cuba out of Truthful Dutch, by Swear by Dixie – was clocked six furlongs in 1:10.36 and paid $12.60 for the win in his first graded triumph. Eastern Bay finished second, beaten a nose and another nose ahead of Nitrous, with pacesetter Krsto Skye fourth in the field of six older runners.

Laki earned $120,000 from the De Francis Dash’s $200,000 purse, winning for the 10th time in a 28-race career.

Krsto Skye and Julian Pimentel showed the way early, going the opening quarter mile in :22.96 and the half in :45.03. Landeskog, the 9-10 favorite under Florent Geroux, was his closest pursuer, with Laki racing in traffic, having to check back into fifth, well ahead of Eastern Bay, who trailed the field under Angel Cruz.

Nitrous and Paco Lopez made a three-wide move on the turn, with Laki just to his outside, and those two took aim on the leader.

Krsto Skye retained a 1 1/2-length lead into mid-stretch, with five furlongs clocked in :57.05, but Laki and Nitrous were bearing down. Laki put his nose in front, with Nitrous fighting back as the wire approached, just as Eastern Bay came flying on the far outside. The three hit the wire together, with Kristo Skye 1 1/4 lengths behind that trio back in fourth.

“It was unbelievably exciting,” said Dilodovico, who won the De Francis in 2013 when it was not graded. “Everyone was hollering like it was a full house, like a May Preakness. It means the world to me.

“The owner gives him a lot of time. When we want to give him time, the owner [Hillside Equestrian Meadows] takes him home, takes good care of him and sends him back to us in good shape.”

“Unbelievable. This is the stable horse. I’m so happy for everybody,” said Karamanos. “Laki, I really love this horse. I really love the trainer, the family. Everybody works together. I’m so happy to win for them because they support me all year round, winning many races. I’m so happy, especially for Damon. He’s a good guy and a good trainer.

“It was an amazing finish. My horse broke good out of the gate, the speed went fast. He didn’t want to go, but when I whipped him a couple of times he started responding in the middle of the turn. He was a little shy on the inside and I made the decision to go wide a little bit. It was a beautiful race. He fired today.”

Angel Cruz, aboard Eastern Bay, said: “He came with a big run and almost caught the winner. I thought I may have got up at the end, but that’s horse racing.”

The 29th running of the De Francis for 3-year-olds and up was part of an all-stakes Preakness Day program featuring the 145th renewal of the $1 million Preakness (G1), contested this year as the final jewel in a refashioned Triple Crown, and the 96th edition of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2), one of the country’s premiere events for 3-year-old fillies.

Named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, and not run in 2008 or 2010, the De Francis’ illustrious roster of past winners includes Hall of Famer Housebuster, fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull, and Lite the Fuse, the race’s only two-time winner (1995-96).

This year marked only the third time the De Francis has been run at Pimlico, where it debuted in 1990 and returned in 2004. Laki had been winless in his only two tries over the surface, respectively running fifth and sixth in the 2017 and 2018 Maryland Sprint (G3) on the Preakness undercard. He finished second in the 2018 De Francis Dash at Laurel.

The post Three Noses On Line: Laki Gets The Win In Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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