Armando R Springs 10-1 Upset in $100,000 Richard Small

Cordmaker Finishes Third to Reach Million-Dollar Plateau
Swayin to and Fro Goes the Distance in $100,000 Safely Kept
Little Vic Registers Big Effort in $100,000 City of Laurel

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.

Swayin to and Fro Goes the Distance in $100,000 Safely Kept

Baxter Racing Stable’s Swayin to and Fro, showing a new dimension, took advantage of her inside draw to lead all the way around and edge clear late to notch her second career stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Safely Kept at Laurel Park.

The 32nd running of the Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies was the first of three stakes on the post-Thanksgiving program, followed by the $100,000 City of Light for 3-year-olds, also at seven furlongs, and $100,000 Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles.

Ridden by Grant Whitacre for trainer Mario Serey Jr., Swayin to and Fro ($15.80) completed the distance in 1:24.00 over a fast main track for her fifth win in six career tries over Laurel’s main track. Her prior stakes victory came over elders in the restricted Shine Again Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

“We drew the rail and that was Mario’s call to just go. He said, ‘If she gets tired, she gets tired. Just send her to the front and let’s see what we’ve got,’” Whitacre said. “He changed up the training with her and it paid off today.”

South Carolina-bred Swayin to and Fro broke sharply and was quickly in front under Whitacre, running splits of 22.72 and 45.78 seconds while pressed to their outside by 11-1 long shot Liscolvin. Swayin to and Fro dug in again once straightened for home to keep Liscolvin and 7-2 betting favorite Bazinga C at bay before drawing clear to win by 3 ½ lengths.

Liscolvin held off Bazinga C by a head for second, and it was 3 ¼ lengths back to Moody Woman in fourth. Buy the Best, November Rein, Grade 1-placed Divine Huntress, Click to Confirm, Half Is Enough, Vibrant Judy and Still My Babe completed the order of finish. Sweet Gracie, Last Leaf and Noble Bid were scratched.

“They weren’t making me go terribly fast and probably about the three-eighths pole I felt her take a breath. It wasn’t like she was getting tired; she was just in hand the whole way and I knew I had plenty left. It worked out perfect,” Whitacre said.

“She kicked away and there wasn’t that much competition with her pushing her along. I felt her kind of come back to me a little bit and I kept asking her a little bit and she picked up the bit again and went on,” he added. “She wasn’t even blowing coming back, so that was great.”

The Safely Kept honors the champion sprinter of 1989 and member of the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The daughter of longtime Maryland sire Horatius was the first sprinter to top $2 million in earnings, the first Maryland-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the 1990 Sprint (G1), a four-time Maryland-bred champion including Horse of the Year twice (1989,1990) and is one of only seven horses to win three Maryland Million races. She won 24 races, 22 in stakes, from 31 lifetime starts.

Little Vic Registers Big Effort in $100,000 City of Laurel

Victoria’s Ranch’s Little Vic, unplaced in three graded-stakes attempts this year, dropped into listed company and made his Laurel Park debut a successful one with a determined 1 ½-length triumph in Saturday’s 12th running of the $100,000 City of Laurel.

A sophomore son of multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Practical Joke, Little Vic ($12.40) earned his second straight win after beating older horses in an open six-furlong allowance Oct. 20 at Delaware Park for trainer Juan Carlos Avila.

Little Vic settled in fifth as 15-1 long shot Defend took the field of 11 3-year-olds through a quarter-mile in 22.41 seconds with Uncle Buddy in close pursuit and 2021 Timonium Juvenile winner Cynergy’s Star three wide in the clear in third. Uncle Buddy inherited the lead after a half in 45.34 while Al Loves Josie began to roll on the outside and jockey Carlos Olivero stayed put along the rail, forging a short lead after six furlongs in 1:10.50 and edging clear.

Radical Right, sent off the 2-1 favorite, came with a sustained late run on the outside to edge Al Loves Josie by a neck for second, followed by Nimitz Class, Uncle Buddy, Local Motive, Irish Boolum, Undercover Kitty, Steinbeck, Cynergy’s Star and Defend. Coastal Mission and Twisted Ride were scratched.

Little Vic debuted last fall in South Florida, winning his unveiling at Gulfstream Park and finishing seventh in the Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 12 at Tampa Bay Downs in his third start. He was sixth in the May 21 Chick Lang (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course and 10th in the Sept. 24 Gallant Bob (G2) at Parx prior to his current streak.

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