SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Decorated Invader sat off Get Smokin’s pacesetting effort before overtaking the front-runner from the outside in the stretch and pulling away for a 1 ¼-length win in the Grade 2, $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds on a sun-swept day at Saratoga Race Course.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook, William Freeman and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader won for the fifth time in seven career starts for trainer Christophe Clement and improved to 3-for-3 as a sophomore. The Declaration of War colt, who won the Grade 1 Summer and ran a competitive fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a juvenile, started 2020 with wins in the Cutler Bay in March at Gulfstream and followed with a 4 ¾-length score in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge on June 20 at Belmont Park
Returning to Saratoga for the first time since breaking his maiden at second asking last August, Decorated Invader sat in second position as Get Smokin surged to the front, opening up seven lengths on the five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.85 seconds on the firm inner turf. Get Smokin, under Jose Ortiz, pushed forward, posting a half-mile in 48.98 and three-quarters in 1:13.52.
Out of the final turn, jockey Joel Rosario set down Decorated Invader, taking command with the Chad Brown-trained Domestic Spending making a late move to his outside. But Decorated Invader pressed on and handled his first attempt at 1 1/8 miles with aplomb, hitting the wire in 1:49.29 to give Rosario his third Hall of Fame win in the last four runnings.
“When I got to the horse on the lead [Get Smokin] turning for home, he kept running a little bit,” Rosario said. “He had been all alone on the lead but I could feel I had a lot of horse underneath me and he was moving much the best.
“I thought I would be a little closer, but the other horse was off the rail and in the middle of the track,” he added. “I followed him for a little bit but I ended up letting my horse be comfortable. I took my time and made my move when it was the right time to move.”
Off as the 2-5 favorite, Decorated Invader paid $2.80 on a $2 win wager. He improved his career bankroll to $453,035.
“He’s a top-class horse and has been since Day One for me,” Clement said. “I love him. I love the way he trains. I love the way he races. It’s a different scenario every time we run him, but the final outcome is the same. I thought he looked better in the last sixteenth of a mile than he did before that. He actually won going away at the end.”
With three graded stakes wins, Decorated Invader could now be a possibility for the $500,000 Saratoga Derby, part of NYRA’s Turf Triple Series, on August 15.
“That is one of the targets,” Clement said. “We’ll have to see how he comes out of this and see how he trains, but that’s a logical spot at the moment.”
Get Smokin, trained by Tom Bush, edged Domestic Spending by a nose for second. He has finished as the runner-up in both career graded stakes appearances, starting with the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy in January at Gulfstream.
“He ran big. The first quarter of a mile we went a little faster than I wanted to because he’s so used to going a mile [and running splits] in 45 or 46 and that’s why I kept him off the rail,” Ortiz said. “When I got to the turn he relaxed and I dropped in a little bit. On the backside, I had him where I wanted him. I tried to get the jump on the other horse [Decorated Invader] but the other horse is a very nice horse. I think my horse’s game is a mile flat. It was a lot to ask him to go a mile and an eighth, but he showed up.”
Moon Over Miami and Ever Dangerous completed the order of finish. Gufo and main-track only entrant Money Moves were scratched.
2020 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Replay
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 10-race card showcasing the Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies in Race 9 at 5:46 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:10 p.m.
Saratoga Entries for Sunday, July 19, 2020
NYRA Press Release /Brian Bohl
Photo: Decorated Invader Credit: NYRA