Armando R Upsets Favorite in Richard Small

November 28, 2022

Photo by Maryland Jockey Club

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Ronald Cuneo’s Armando R, scratched from a Thanksgiving Day allowance, came with a steady run on the far outside down the center of the track to upset favored Ournationonparade by a half-length in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small at Laurel Park.

The 22nd running of the 1 1/8-mile Richard Small for 3-year-olds and up anchored three stakes on the post-Thanksgiving program following the $100,000 Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies and $100,000 City of Laurel for 3-year-olds, both sprinting seven furlongs.

It was the second straight stakes win for Armando R ($23) following his neck triumph in an off-the-turf edition of the 1 ½-mile Japan Turf Cup Oct. 1 at Laurel, his prior start. He also won an optional claiming allowance June 12 at Laurel in his only prior attempt at nine furlongs.

“He takes care of himself in the morning,” winning trainer Damon Dilodovico said. “Really, he’s just so determined.”

Thomas Shelby, beaten a neck when second in the Feb. 12 Razorback (G2) at Oaklawn Park, outran Oct. 22 Maryland Million Classic winner Ournationonparade for the early lead, going the opening quarter mile in 24.16 seconds. Cordmaker, making just his second start since winning the General George (G3) Feb. 19 at Laurel, raced up close in third with American d’Oro, riding a two-race win streak, fourth.

The half went in 48.11 with Thomas Shelby still in front but Ournationonparade closing the gap and American d’Oro passing Cordmaker for third. The running order went unchanged through six furlongs in 1:12.21 while Armando R, unhurried in the early going, began to roll on the outside under Horacio Karamanos.

“I was just so worried with the early lack of pace I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dilodovico said. “But Horacio was in tune with everything. He had him closer than I kind of expected him to be and was able to stay in contention.”

Armando R, a 6-year-old gelded son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame, reeled in Ournationonparade, who held off a game Cordmaker by a length for second. Cordmaker’s third-place finish was worth $10,000, pushing him over the $1 million mark in career purse earnings at $1,000,880.

Thomas Shelby, Forewarned, American d’Oro and Wish for Peace completed the order of finish. Ridin With Biden and Treasure Trove were scratched.

Armando R continued a strong season-ending run for Dilodovico, who moved into a three-way tie for second at Laurel’s fall meet with 13 wins from 45 starters (28.8 percent).

“Our team is unbelievable right now,” he said. “For a smallish stable, they just keep knocking it out.”

Formerly run as the Broad Brush, the multi-millionaire and four-time Grade 1 winner he trained, the Richard W. Small was renamed following the beloved horseman’s death from cancer in 2014. Baltimore-born ‘Dickie’ Small served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a Green Beret before becoming a trainer, also campaigning Broad Brush’s son, 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. He won at least one stakes race in Maryland every year but one between 1974 and 2014 and is also known for helping launch the riding careers of female jockeys such as Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown, Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce.

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