ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Christophe Clement breezed a number of turf workers on Sunday morning at Belmont Park, including the graded stakes-winning pair of Decorated Invader and Gufo, both of whom are targeting the Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational at 10-furlongs for sophomores on October 3 over the inner turf.
The two 3-year-old sons of Declaration of War worked in company, covering a half-mile in an easy 51.01 seconds over the inner turf.
“They both had a very good work together,” Clement said. “They started slow but finished up great. They will be nominated to the Belmont Derby and we’ll go from there. A back up race could be a race like the [Grade 2, $150,000] Hill Prince [on October 12], but at the moment both are being trained to the Belmont Derby.”
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader finished a close fifth in the Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 15 as the beaten favorite, where Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo finished a closing second, a head back to Domestic Spending.
A three-time graded stakes winner, Decorated Invader won last year’s Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine before recording a productive sophomore campaign, with victories in the Cutler Bay on March 28 at Gulfstream Park, the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge on June 20 at Belmont and the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on July 18 at Saratoga.
Never off the board in six lifetime starts, Gufo captured his stakes debut from well off the pace in the English Channel on May 2 at Gulfstream Park before capturing the Grade 3 Kent on July 4 at Delaware Park over next-out stakes winners Pixelate and Vanzzy.
Clement said City Man, who worked a half-mile in 50.66 seconds over the inner turf Sunday, could also target the Belmont Derby. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Peter and Patty Searles, the son of Mucho Macho Man was a recent second in the Albany at Saratoga.
Bred in New York by Moonstar Farm, City Man is 2-2-1 in nine career starts.
Michael Dubb, Madaket Stable and Bethlehem Stable’s Plum Ali logged her first work since winning the Mint Juvenile Fillies on September 7 at Kentucky Downs with a half-mile effort in 50.66 over the inner turf and will target the Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo on October 4.
“It was her first work since winning at Kentucky Downs. That was a half-million dollar race so it was a good race to win,” Clement said. “The plan is to run her in the Miss Grillo. I wanted to run in Saratoga, but the P.G. Johnson came off the turf.”
A 2-year-old daughter of First Samurai, Plum Ali won her career debut going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon turf at Saratoga on July 23.
Clement also spoke of Space Launch, a first-out winner on Friday afternoon’s program who broke his maiden by 1 ½ lengths going one mile over the Widener turf and registered a 71 Beyer Speed Figure for the debut win.
“Space Launch is a nice horse,” Clement said. “He’s trained well and we have always liked him. He always trained better on the turf than on dirt. He’s a well-bred horse. So far, he came back in good shape.”
Owned by Athlone Racing, Daniel Burke and Jane Burke, the son of Bernardini is out of multiple black type-producing Awesome Again mare Spacy Tracy, who also produced main track graded stakes winners Benner Island and Victim of Love.
“That [the main track graded-stakes winning progeny] was the reason I kept asking myself if I was doing the right thing by running him on turf,” Clement said. “But his turf works were just so much better than his dirt works.”
Clement said that Space Launch could return to action in the $80,000 Awad on October 31 at Belmont Park.
Photo: Decorated Invader winning the Hall of Fame at Saratoga. Credit: NYRA/Chelsea Durand