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BALTIMORE, MD – Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber, and Black Cloud Racing’s multiple stakes winner Whereshetoldmetogo, in the best form of his life at the age of 6, chases his fourth straight victory and 11th overall in Saturday’s $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley at Pimlico Race Course.
The ninth running of the Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up sprinting seven furlongs is among 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.
First race post time is 12:40 PM Eastern.
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Whereshetoldmetogo was already a four-time stakes winner, beaten a neck by Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire when second in the 2018 Gallant Bob (G2), when he arrived in trainer Brittany Russell’s barn last summer from her former mentor Brad Cox.
In 5 starts for Russell, the El Padrino gelding has never been worse than second and crossed the wire first in 4 consecutive races, though he was disqualified from victory in the New Castle last September at Delaware Park for interference.
Since then, Whereshetoldmetogo won a 6-furlong edition of the Whiteley by a nose last November and the December 26 Dave’s Friend, also 6 furlongs at Laurel Park, by 3/4 of a length to close his 2020 campaign.
“We just kind of try and keep him healthy and happy and hopefully he keeps enjoying it, as well. He seems like he’s happy and we just try and stay out of his way,” Russell said. “I just hope we can keep it rolling.”
The connections gave Whereshetoldmetogo plenty of time to get 2021 under way, waiting until the 6-furlong Not For Love against fellow Maryland-bred/sired horses March 13 at Laurel. Sent off as a heavy favorite, he was kept within range and in the clear on the outside before taking a lead into the stretch and going on to win by 2 1/2 lengths under Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, who rides back from Post 5 in a field of nine.
“He’s just a big, tough horse. He’s a monster. Physically, when you stand beside him, he’s quite the specimen,” Brittany Russell said. “With that being said, he had a bit of a gap in his racing since the December race, so I expect him to move forward, too. He always seems to be better when you get a couple races under his belt. He got the job done last time but we also didn’t have him really cranked up for that race, so I’m really excited to see how he can step forward from that last run, as well.”
Whershetoldmetogo will face at least one familiar and formidable rival in fellow Maryland-bred gelding Laki, a Grade 3 winner he beat in their last two meetings in the Whiteley and Dave’s Friend.
“I think that’s the coolest thing for Maryland racing. You have two really nice Maryland-breds like that and other nice horses, naturally, and it’s just fun,” Russell said. “It’s great to see them put together a great race like that and to be involved in it.”
Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki will be making his 32nd career start in the Whiteley, a race he won in 2019 when it was opened up beyond straight 3-year-olds for the first time. Trained by Damon Dilodovico, Laki also owns 10 wins and is the richest horse in the field with a $740,662 bankroll.
Laki exits a third in the 7-furlong General George (G3) February 20 at Laurel, a race where he was always among the leaders and wound up beaten four lengths. Fourth in the Jan. 16 Fire Plug after clipping heels early, he has won at least one stakes race each of the past four years.
“I thought he ran well last time. I was happy with the effort,” Dilodovico said. “All along the early part of his career I was convinced he would be a seven-eighths [horse] or a miler. I just started to change that mindset last year. I was hopeful that he’d do well at that distance. I wasn’t as confident as I would have been a year or so before. I was nervous about the extra distance.
“They knocked that race back a week and he may have been out of his tub for a few days, so if it had been the week before we might not have even run. So, the fact that it came back and he was able to do pretty well, I was happy with that,” he added. “He was doing well but he wasn’t where I would have preferred him to be in his training. At this level, if you miss a few days of training for whatever reason – it could be anything – you can’t take anything for granted when you’re running against those kinds of horses.”
Laki had placed in two graded-stakes and finished off the board in two others – the 2017 and 2018 Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico – before breaking through in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial (G3) last fall. Typically run at Laurel, it was moved to be part of a 2020 Preakness weekend delayed until early October amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“That was huge. It was a graded stake for him, which I really kind of feel like it was something he’s earned. He’s been dancing all these tough races and it’s a little bit extra for him,” Dilodovico said. “He deserved it. The anxiety I had going into the race just because of his previous efforts [at Pimlico] and he’d been getting banged up and this and that, but not that day. He was good that day.”
Regular rider Horacio Karamanos gets the assignment on Laki from Post 7.
Robert D. Bone’s Eastern Bay won 3 of his 4 four starts, including a stakes victory in the Polynesian at Laurel, and was beaten a nose by Laki in the De Francis since being claimed for $35,000 by leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez. He has gone unraced in nearly 5 months following a troubled 10th-place finish in the Whiteley last November.
Gonzalez will also send out Euro Stable’s Grade 3-placed 4-year-old Lebda, winless in 7 starts since back-to-back victories in Miracle Wood and Private Terms last winter at Laurel. Third in the Fire Plug, he was most recently fourth – just a 1/2-length behind Laki – in the General George.
Completing the field are Absentee, third in the Fall Highweight (G3) last November at Aqueduct in his most recent start; stakes winner Arthur’s Hope, fifth in the General George; Press My Bets and Silent Malice, each riding a 2-race win streak; and Factor It In.
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