Streaking Decorated Invader to face eight rivals in Saratoga Derby

Streaking Decorated Invader to face eight rivals in Saratoga Derby
Photo: Courtesy of Gulfstream Park

Decorated Invader, who already has registered a graded stakes win over Saratoga Race Course's turf this meet, will put his undefeated sophomore record on the line in a return engagement Saturday, headlining the second running of the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational.

The Saratoga Derby was initiated last year as part of the New York Racing Association's Turf Triple series to showcase the country's best 3-year-old turf runners, joining the Belmont Derby Invitational and the Jockey Club Derby. Contested as the middle jewel of the series last year following the Belmont Derby, the Saratoga Derby, held at 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf course, will be the first leg of the 2020 Turf Triple.

NBC will offer live coverage from 5-6 p.m., airing stakes action that will also include the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama for sophomore fillies with a "Win and You're In" berth to the Breeders' Cup Distaff on the line.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader is 3-for-3 in 2020, starting with a 1 ¼-length score in the one-mile Cutler Bay in March at Gulfstream Park before romping a six-horse field by 4 ¾-lengths in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge, also at one mile, on Belmont Stakes Day, June 20, at Belmont Park.

Returning to historic Saratoga, Decorated Invader won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame on July 18, registering a Beyer Speed Figure in excess of 90 for the second consecutive start thanks to his 1 ¼-length victory.

With five wins and a runner-up in seven career starts, the Declaration of War colt has already racked up three graded stakes wins, including a victory as a juvenile in the Grade 1 Summer last September at Woodbine. The Christophe Clement trainee has only failed to hit the board once, running fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita to cap his impressive 2-year-old year.

"I'm very happy with how he's been training. He looks great," Clement said. "He's been training with [fellow Saratoga Derby entrant] Gufo and they continue to work well and help each other. They work very willingly, so I'm excited to see both of them run."

Decorated Invader made his first two starts at Saratoga, running second to fellow Saratoga Derby contender Field Pass in July 2019 before a maiden-breaking 3 ¼-length win last August going 1 1/16 miles. His Hall of Fame effort last out marked the first time Clement stretched him out to 1 1/8 miles, and the $200,000 purchase at the 2019 Ocala Breeders' Sale will now look to handle additional ground.

"You never know until you try, but I thought he ran great last time, so there's no reason why he can't do it this time," Clement said. "The way he ran last time, it's very encouraging."

Joel Rosario, aboard for his last three wins, will be in the irons again from post 2.

Clement will send out another last-out stakes winner in Otter Bend Stables' Gufo, who has won four straight since a second-place debut effort in November at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Like Decorated Invader, Gufo is also a son of Declaration of War, and has showed an affinity for longer distances by capturing the 1 1/16-mile English Channel in May at Gulfstream before a strong closing kick secured the Grade 3 Kent, going 1 1/8 miles, on July 4 at Delaware Park. All four of his victories have come at distances of at least 1 1/16 miles.

"The further, the better for him," Clement said. "He's a little different kind of horse. He always shows less speed in his races than Decorated Invader, but he has a really good turn-of-foot."

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Gufo for the first time, drawing post 5.

Get Smokin, who ran second to Decorated Invader in the Hall of Fame and was third to him in the Cutler Bay, will get another opportunity. In five starts this year, Get Smokin has been a runner-up three times, starting when he ran a half-length back to Island Commish in January at Gulfstream and finishing a neck behind Field Pass in the Dania Beach in February at the same track.

The Get Stormy colt, trained by Tom Bush, has one win in eight starts but has earned blacktype on six occasions [1-3-2], including his career debut at Saratoga in August 2019 when third at 5 ½ furlongs.

"He wants the turf firm, for sure," Bush said. "This race will probably be deeper than last time, so we'll have to step it up for sure. But we're happy to be taking a chance with him."

Owned by Mary Abeel Sullivan Revocable Trust, Get Smokin's Hall of Fame effort was his first start at more than a mile. Bush said going 1 3/16 miles is challenging but he is hopeful his charge is up to it.

"I'm concerned about it, but he's trained hard for the race with a lot of long gallops and he's well prepared," Bush said. "We'll see if he can get the distance. If he can't, we're going to find out."

Get Smokin breezed five furlongs in 1:02.47 on August 8 over the Oklahoma turf training track. Prior to the Hall of Fame, Bush had Get Smokin work at Belmont before shipping up.

"We've been happy with him since the last race," Bush said. "He had a nice, easy work on the grass last week and galloped out good. He's showing plenty of energy, so we're going to take a run at it."

Luis Saez, who rode Get Smokin to a 10th place-finish in the Awad in October, will return to ride from the outermost post. Saez won the inaugural Saratoga Derby aboard A Thread of Blue last year.

Three Diamonds Farm's Field Pass is already a four-time stakes winner, including back-to-back triumphs in the Audubon at 1 1/8 miles on June 20 at Churchill Downs before edging Street Ready by a nose in the Grade 3 Transylvania on July 12 at Keeneland.

Trained by Mike Maker, Field Pass in the field's most experienced entrant, compiling a 5-2-1 record in 11 starts with earnings of $418,610. Saratoga served as the site of Field Pass' first victory last July going 1 1/16 miles, and also saw him run second to Fighting Seabee in the Grade 3 With Anticipation last August.

The Lemon Drop kid colt has won four of his five starts this year, with the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks in March at Turfway Park starting his campaign. He recorded a third-place effort in the War Chant on May 23 before starting a new streak.

Tyler Gaffalione, who piloted Field Pass to the Audubon win, will return to ride from post 7.

The trifecta in the Hall of Fame will be represented in the Saratoga Derby, as third-place finisher Domestic Spending will go for trainer Chad Brown. The English-bred son of Kingman did not run as a 2-year-old, with the patience paying off as Domestic Spending won his first two starts, scoring at Tampa Bay Downs and subsequently Belmont before facing stakes company.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. has been aboard for both of his starts in New York and will ride again, drawing post 4.

Colonel Liam won his first race on turf last month at the Spa and will now take a big step up in class following his 100 Beyer against older allowance company at 1 1/16 miles going against six other competitors. The son of Liam's Map, owned by Lawana and Robert Low, was purchased as a 2-year-old for $1.2 million at the 2019 Ocala Breeders' Sale.

"I've been very pleased," Pletcher said. "He was the only 3-year-old in that race. It was really competitive and he handled it well, so I was happy with that. I was also happy with the way he breezed back and it seems like we found what we were looking for putting him on the turf."

Unraced as a juvenile, Colonel Liam made it to the track on April 11 at Gulfstream, where he crossed the wire second after Saez, his jockey. was forced to check after a bump. He was elevated to first when the stewards ruled Per Capita caused interference, giving Colonel Liam a debut win that he parlayed into a third-place effort over a sloppy and sealed Gulfstream track on May 24.

Pletcher moved him to turf last time, where he thrived in putting up a big number. He will now pick up the services of Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano from post 6.

"He's always given me the impression that longer distances won't hurt him," Pletcher said. "The key is if he can settle as well as he did in the last race."

His stablemate, Wertheimer and Frere's No Word, has two wins in five starts and will be making his first stakes start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Pilgrim in September at Belmont.

No Word registered a win by a neck over Shamrocket on July 9 over firm Belmont turf and will return to the site of his debut win last August, drawing post 3 with Jose Ortiz set to ride.

Bama Breeze, second to Field Pass in the Audubon, will make his fifth career start. Owned by Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing, Bama Breeze made just one start as a 2-year-old, winning in September at Churchill, before an eight-month layoff.

Upon his return in May and under the care of trainer Rusty Arnold, Bama Breeze ran ninth in the War Chant before his runner-up effort. The Honor Code gelding made his graded stakes bow last out, running sixth after encountering traffic in the Transylvania.

Manny Franco will have the call from post 1.

2020 Saratoga Derby (LS)

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