LAUREL, Md. – Ronald Cuneo’s Armando R, given a break by trainer Damon Dilodovico over the summer, became a stakes winner in his second race off the layoff with a come-from-behind neck triumph over Beacon Hill in Saturday’s $100,000 Japan Turf Cup at Laurel Park.
The 59th renewal of the Japan Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up, rained off the grass and shortened from 1 ½ to 1 ¼ miles, anchored five stakes worth $575,000 in purses on opening Saturday of the calendar year-ending fall meet.
Late-running Armando R ($14), one of three horses entered for main track only, covered the distance in 2:06.13 over a sloppy and sealed main track under Horacio Karamanos for his sixth win from 23 career starts and first in a stakes.
“We’re very fortunate to have him,” Dilodovico said. “We were glad the race held together pretty well today, because you almost always get a little bit more pace as opposed to a race against three or four horses and they have it their own way. We definitely needed the pace and he got it, and he rallied.”
Armando R was unhurried in the early going trailing well behind maiden What Say Thee and stakes winner Vance Scholars, who battled up front through a quarter-mile in 23.09 and a half in 47.14. While Vance Scholars took command after six furlongs in 1:13.35 and What Say Thee dropped back, Armando R was weaving his way through traffic on the turn to get into a contending position. Racing on the far outside, Armando R came with a steady run to wear down Beacon Hill and get up in time.
Beacon Hill was three-quarters of a length ahead of third-place finisher Vance Scholars. It was another 12 ¼ lengths back to Carrothers in fourth.
“We were struggling to find a race for him, and we wanted distance. We’ve been talking about something like this all year,” Dilodovico said. “We stumbled into a good spot, I guess.”
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Maryland Jockey Club