G1 Winner Decorated Invader Launching Comeback Saturday

September 24, 2022

11-Race Program Features Four Stakes Worth $400,000 in Purses

BALTIMORE, Md. – West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s Decorated Invader, a Grade 1 winner at 2 that has gone unraced in more than 16 months, is set to launch his comeback Saturday at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Decorated Invader, based in New York with trainer Christophe Clement, drew Post 11 of 12 and was installed as the narrow 5-2 program favorite in Race 5, a stakes-quality optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for one mile on the grass.

It is part of an outstanding 11-race program featuring four $100,000 stakes on closing Saturday of the nine-day fall meet – the Sensible Lady Turf Dash (Race 7) and Laurel Dash (Race 10) sprinting five furlongs on the grass, six-furlong Weather Vane (Race 8) for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs, and 1 1/16-mile Polynesian (Race 9) for 3-year-olds and up, both on the main track.

Fancy Liquor was the victor at Churcill Downs in the 2020 American Turf. Photo by Coady Photography

Among the rivals Decorated Invader will face are 2020 American Turf (G2) winner Fancy Liquor, unraced since Feb. 19; Wootton Asset, winner of 2021 Virginia Derby (G3) who has not been out since finishing 10th in the Twilight Derby last Halloween at Santa Anita; and stakes winner Hard Love, 10th in his return from a year between starts in July at Saratoga.

“You don’t want to bring a horse back that’s been off over a year in a stake if you can help it [but] this race is no cakewalk. It’s a good field,” West Point Executive Vice President Tom Bellhouse said. “At least three, maybe four really good horses coming off the layoff. Fingers crossed.”

Hard Love winning the 2021 Woodhaven at Aqueduct. Photo by Chelsea Durand

Now 5, Decorated Invader won the 2019 Summer (G1) going one mile on the turf at Woodbine in his third career start then rallied from next to last to be fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He opened his sophomore year with wins in the Cutler Bay, Pennine Ridge (G2) and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2), was fifth by less than a length in the Saratoga Derby Invitational and second by a head in the Hill Prince (G2) during a 2020 season altered amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m thrilled. This horse is a special horse. Obviously, a Grade 1 winner,” Bellhouse said. “He kind of carried us through the beginning of the pandemic. We weren’t able to go to the races when he won the Cutler Bay, and the Pennine Ridge we weren’t able to attend in person. At the Hall of Fame we were able to go.

“We were really, really unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup not to win. Then he won three stakes in a row to start his 3-year-old season and had a little bit of trouble in the Saratoga Derby,” he added. “He lost by a head in the Hill Prince and then things kind of went a little sideways. But he’s an awesome horse and if we can get him back healthy and going, we’re excited. When you see him, he’s just gorgeous.”

Decorated Invader, by Declaration of War, only raced twice last year, finishing third in the Danger’s Hour at Aqueduct and fifth in the Seek Again at Belmont Park before going to the sidelines in mid-June. He was briefly in training over the winter at Payson Park in South Florida but shelved again, returning to the work tab in mid-August. Saturday’s race will be his first in 491 days.

“He had a really odd injury that was hard to diagnose,” Bellhouse said. “He’s been working up here at Saratoga. I got to watch him. He’s always been a little eager in his training, so you’re always careful not to let him do too much. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent cranked. I’m sure he’s ready to run, but I’m not expecting him to run off the screen by any means. This race was there, and we wanted to get him started.”

Kendrick Carmouche, already in town to ride Honey Pants for Clement in the Sensible Lady as well as Smash Ticket in the Weather Vane, Sea Foam in the Polynesian and Carotari in the Laurel Dash, gets the call on Decorated Invader.

“We’re just thrilled and thrilled that Kendrick’s going to be down there to ride him,” Bellhouse said. “Christophe is very particular about who he has ride, and that’s awesome.”

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Main Photo: Decorated Invader sailing to victory in the 2020 G2 Racing Museum Hall of Fame at Saratoga. Photo by Susie Raisher

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