Going to the Lead favored in tough Pimlico allowance

Though he has yet to run in a stakes since joining trainer Damon Dilodovico’s barn 27 months ago, Vince Campanella’s 6-year-old gelding Going to the Lead will get a strong feel for that level of competition Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

Bred in Maryland by Shellaine Brown and Susan Baldrige, Going to the Lead drew outside Post 6 and is the narrow 5-2 program favorite in the featured seventh race, a stakes-quality third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track.

Also in the field are Monmouth Park shipper He’s in Charge, first or second in six of 10 starts with four wins; multiple stakes winner Battle Station, second by a nose in the 2021 Parx Dash (G3); 2020 Maryland Million Sprint winner Karan’s Notion; Still Having Fun, a Grade 2 winner of more than $618,000 making his first start in nearly a year; and Eastern Bay, a 14-time career winner including the 2020 Polynesian, who was beaten a nose by the recently retired Laki – also trained by Dilodovico – in that year’s Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3).

Still Having Fun and Eastern Bay are both entered for the $50,000 tag.

“It’s only a six-horse field, but this race is definitely a step up from what he has been running against,” said Dilodovico, who won Friday’s fifth race with 9-5 favorite Divine Proportion ($5.80). “But, I think he’s been working his way along into that upper echelon. This race will tell us a lot.”

Going to the Lead, by multiple graded-stakes winner Redeemed, has been first across the line in four of his five starts this year, but was disqualified and placed second for interference late in a seven-furlong optional claimer March 13 at Laurel Park. Next time out he was third, beaten seven lengths by Eastern Bay in a similar spot going 5 ½ furlongs.

With regular rider Horacio Karamanos aboard, Going to the Lead returned to the winner’s circle in his most recent outing, remaining at that level for a half-length triumph April 29 at Laurel. He has finished worse than third just three times in 23 career starts, and is 5-6-1 from 14 races since being claimed by Dilodovico for $25,000 Feb. 22, 2020.

“He threw in a clunker a couple starts back and I blame me more than I blame him. He’s the kind of horse that whenever I’ve got him good he always shows up,” Dilodovico said. “He’s a neat horse and he’s doing great.”

Going to the Lead was off for more than a year following the claim, returning with a starter-optional claimer victory last April at Laurel. He has raced exclusively at Maryland tracks, with two wins and three seconds in five tries at Pimlico.

“He was a little off early on after we claimed him,” Dilodovico said. “After a while, Mr. Campanella said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do the procedure.’ He had to have work done on two of his knees but he came out of that good and he’s been doing great ever since.”

Dilodovico’s undefeated 3-year-old colt Super Love, a Maryland-bred son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver owned by John Davison and Eunhee Kim, breezed a half-mile in 49.40 seconds Thursday at Laurel as the connections plot out his next start.

A maiden special weight winner sprinting 5 ½ furlongs in debut April 16, Super Love captured an entry-level optional claiming allowance going six furlongs May 5, both at Laurel. He was nominated to the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) May 21 at Pimlico on the undercard of the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“We’re going to stick with his conditions right now. The owner doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, which I think is good. He’s such a big horse and this will let him continue to develop,” Dilodovico said. “I mean, he was 1,200 pounds and change, so he’s a big guy. We’ll let him race some of his baby fat off and that’ll be a good thing for him. John is definitely letting me be as patient as we need to be. We opted away from last weekend’s stuff, his last race was pretty solid. He’s doing well.”

  • Going to the Lead won a Laurel Park allowance in April. Photo Jim McCue.