For Damon Dilodovico, a strange day, indeed

“Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” John Lennon sang all those years ago. “Strange days, indeed.”

He wasn’t, but could very well have been, describing trainer Damon Dilodovico’s day today.

The horse that couldn’t lose got beat in an impossible manner. And the horse that kept finding ways to get beat won.

That was Dilodovico’s Friday afternoon in a nutshell. Away to Return, a horse he trains for Old Line Racing LLC, posted a dominant five-length score in a first-level allowance to cap the day, two races after his trainee Noble Bid, off at 1-2, was eased and galloped across the line last.

But it’s how she ended up being eased that makes for a remarkable tale.

Owned by Winners Circle Partners XII, Noble Bid had won at first asking and then run second in an allowance contest. She was even-money on the morning line for today’s sixth-race allowance and got bet down from there.

“Is there any way this horse loses?” one handicapper asked before the race.

The answer turned out to be yes. What it took was something Dilodovico called “a million to one shot, right?”

Noble Bid, wearing a hood today, broke with a group of three horses, but R Averie Lynn, with apprentice Yan Aviles up, made a quick move to the lead and cut across the field to attain inside position. Horacio Karamanos, on Noble Bid, steadied to avoid clipping heels.

“She’s her own worst enemy. She’s super-strong but she has a dainty mouth,” Dilovodico said of his charge. “When [R Averie Lynn] veered in front of us, Horacio tried to get her off its hip, and when he took a hold of her, she kind of over-reacted.”

Noble Bid threw her head around in response to Karamanos’ actions, and that’s when things really went sideways.

“When she lifted her head up, it’s like a parachute, the wind took the hood and slid it up over her eyes,” the trainer said. “So then she was blindfolded the rest of the way.”

Karamanos ultimately was able to remove the hood entering the stretch, but by that time the rest of the field was long gone and he eased her home.

Dilodovico said she appeared to have a few scrapes but was generally okay following the race, which went to My My Girl. The Robbie Bailes trainee, with Forest Boyce in the irons, won by three parts of a length over Tweet Away Robin. R Averie Lynn faded to fourth.

Fortunately for Dilodovico, two races after Noble Bid’s troubled outing, he sent out Away to Return to win the other division of that allowance test.

It was Away to Return’s second career win and pushed her to the brink of $100,000 in career earnings. Both wins have come during the eight races in Dilodovico’s barn; Old Line claimed her for $40,000 out of her third career start.

Away to Return, a filly by Ghoszapper, quickly moved up outside to press the pace of 38-1 outsider Fortes. She dispatched that rival near the quarter pole and drew away to win by five lengths in 1:04.46 for 5 ½ furlongs over a fast main track. Fortes continued willingly to be second, while post time favorite Wicked Hot, making her first start in just about a year, rallied to be third.

Away to Return paid $6.40 to win and topped an exacta that returned $77.80 on a one-dollar wager.

After winning in her second start in the barn, Away to Return had lost five straight in allowance company, at distances ranging from five furlongs to a mile. Last time out, Away to Return was bumped leaving the starting gate before rallying nicely to be third.

Apprentice Will Humphrey had the mount on Away to Return today, his first start with the horse, and the results couldn’t have been better.

“This kid did a really good job today,” Dilodovico said. “He sits like a journeyman.”

Wins are tough enough to come by in racing, so Dilodovico had to be happy with Away to Return’s effort – particularly after Noble Bid had lost in virtually unprecedented fashion.

“A million to one shot, right?” he said, shaking his head. “A parachute effect on your head.”

  • Away to Return won an allowance at Laurel Park. Photo Jim McCue.