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Normandy Invasion Back to Work Saturday

Overanalyze Normandy Invasion 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire - Sue Kawczynski

At this time last year, Normandy Invasion was taking his first steps on the Triple Crown trail that would ultimately see him forge a lead into mid-stretch before finishing fourth, beaten  just 3 ½ lengths by Orb, in the Kentucky Derby (G1).           

Unraced since the Derby due to a foot abscess and other minor issues, Normandy Invasion launches his comeback on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the fourth race, an entry-level allowance going one mile on the main track.            

Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and trained by Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion drew post one and was installed as the 7-5 program favorite in the field of six older horses. Javier Castellano, on track to register his third straight meet riding championship, will be aboard.            

“I thought time went by fast, but now I know that it really goes fast because it’s been a year since we were thinking about the Derby,” Porter said. “All we can do is wait and see, but he’s sure showing every indication for us to expect a big race out of him.”           

A 4-year-old bay son of Tapit, Normandy Invasion has never raced at Gulfstream and is trying a mile for the first time since his only victory in six career starts, a 9 ¼-length maiden score on Nov. 2, 2012 at Aqueduct.           

Normandy Invasion closed his 2-year-old season running second by a nose in the Remsen (G2) before finishing fifth by 1 ½ lengths in the Risen Star (G2) in his first start at 3. He was second to favored Verrazano in the Wood Memorial (G1) prior to the Derby.            

“We’ve given Normandy plenty of time off purposely. We weren’t going to give him this much time off originally, but when he got the abscess in his foot we decided to bring him back as a 4-year-old,” Porter said. “I wanted to let the hoof grow all the way out. We’ve given him plenty of time, and he responded.”           

Normandy Invasion was initially sent to WinStar Farm to begin preparing for his comeback before joining Brown’s string at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach. He has had eight works since arriving, most recently going a half-mile in 48.90 seconds on Feb. 16.            

“Chad feels, and I’ve been watching, that he’s galloping better than he ever has,” Porter said. “He’s galloped with more intensity and he seems to want to go further than they’re letting him go. His works are getting better and better, and his gallop-outs are as if he’s still working. Everything’s a go for the mornings. I’m just hoping that that translates into a big afternoon, and we will see the real Normandy Invasion back in action.”           

In a perfect world, Porter said he would like to see Normandy Invasion run well enough to point for the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2), to be run for the 89th time at Fair Grounds on March 29.            

“When you’ve been off nine or 10 months, you always worry about them getting a little tired, no matter how long you gallop them and how many five-eighths you put in them,” Porter said. “There’s a chance he might get a little bit tired, but Chad feels he won’t have a problem with the distance. Chad’s a good conditioner with horses that have been off for a while. I’m looking for him to run well.”            

Porter said he will travel from Kentucky to Gulfstream to watch Normandy Invasion’s race in person.            

“I think I’m more nervous this time,” Porter said. “Normally I’m not nervous, but I know how much horse we have and I’m just hoping somewhere along the line something hasn’t gone wrong and he isn’t going to show up when we get to the races. There’s really no reason to feel that way, but I’ll feel a lot more relieved when the race is over and he comes out of it good and is able to win the race or at least run a big race. We don’t have to win the race. We certainly would like to win the race and he should win the race unless a mile’s just too much for him first time back after 10 months.”


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Older Comments about Normandy Invasion Back to Work Saturday...

Loved this horse pre-derby, he was my pick... made a move WAY too soon in the big one. Good to see him back but 7/5 favorite for a closer on a speed favoring track off a long layoff. Going a distance that might prove a bit too short for him? Best of luck, would love to see him find his form in some races later this year
good to see him back

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