SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Spending entered the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course without stakes experience. After running third in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame to Get Smokin and winner Decorated Invader on July 18, the Chad Brown trainee bested those foes in a rematch on Saturday, taking the lead mid-stretch and fending off Gufo’s furious last-sixteenth challenge from the outside for a victory by a head in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational.
The second running of the Saratoga Derby, which this year serves as the first leg of the New York Racing Association’s Turf Triple series for the top 3-year-olds on grass, saw Domestic Spending break sharp under Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 2, with 34-1 longshot Get Smokin sent to the front from the outer most post to lead the eight-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.41 seconds and the half in 47.76 on the Mellon turf coursed labeled firm.
Ortiz, Jr. kept Domestic Spending in third position along the backstretch of the 1 3/16-mile test, with 4-5 favorite Decorated Invader in second position behind the pacesetter as three-quarters went in 1:12.18. Out of the final turn, Domestic Spending was asked for run and responded by overtaking Decorated Invader and Get Smokin from the outside in the final furlong while also staying ahead of a charging No Word from the rail.
Nearing the wire, Gufo, ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, made a strong charge from the seven-path, picking off five horses into the final jumps before Domestic Spending hit the wire in 1:52.52 to secure his first stakes win in his fourth career start.
“We were looking to be a little more forwardly placed,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “He broke more sharp than we thought and were very close to the pace so I tried to relax my horse and he relaxed very well. I could feel [the pressure] a little bit in the stretch, but he responded really well so I knew I had horse. He always finishes strong, so I kept riding. We got the jump and he held them until the end.”
The English-bred Domestic Spending was unraced as a juvenile but started her career with back-to-back wins, scoring on debut in February at Tampa Bay Downs before besting allowance company by a neck going one mile on June 7 at Belmont.
After earning blacktype in the Hall of Fame, Domestic Spending improved to 3-for-4 lifetime.
Domestic Spending, who rallied from last-of-5 in the Hall of Fame, was more forwardly placed on Saturday.
“He was a little closer to the pace this time, which is what we wanted to do last time and it just didn’t work out,” Brown said. “He was real quirky when he was younger. We had to geld him just to get him to train willingly. Every month that’s gone by this year I’ve seen him really mature. In the paddock, I was confident that he would run a big race because he’s never acted better or more confident. I was real proud of the horse.”
Off at 7-1, Domestic Spending returned $16.40 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $340,900.
“With some experience the horse has really matured,” Brown said. “I was talking to Irad in the paddock about how well behaved the horse was today. I was sharing with him how between his last start and today just how much more professional he has been in his works. Together, we were confident he would run his best race to date.”
Gufo, who like Decorated Invader is trained by Christophe Clement, entered with four consecutive wins, including a triumph in the Grade 3 Kent on July 4 at Delaware Park. Picking up the services of Velazquez, the Declaration of War colt rallied from seventh to earn runner-up honors, a half-length in front of the Todd Pletcher-trained No Word.
“My horse is a come-from-behind horse and he was a little closer than he normally is because there was no speed, so I was happy where he was,” Velazquez said. “I tried to bide my time and when I went to tip out he came running and then I hit him right handed and he ducked in. It stopped his momentum and that cost me the race.”
Colonel Liam, Decorated Invader, Bama Breeze, Field Pass and Get Smokin completed the order of finish. It was the first time in four starts – and first since running fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – that Decorated Invader did not earn a winner’s circle trip.
“My two horses went well,” Clement said. “Decorated Invader was a little bit aggressive in the first part of the race and he probably paid for it a little bit at the end. They went a little quicker than I expected in the first half. Gufo ran a very good race but the one in front of him ran very well.”
2020 Saratoga Derby Invitational Replay
Live racing returns on Sunday with a 10-race card which features the $500,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational, the first leg of the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies going 1 3/16 miles over the Mellon turf. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Entries for Sunday, August 16
NYRA Press Release Photo: Domestic Spending #4 wins the 2