ELMONT, N.Y. – West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader and Otter Bend Stables’ Grade 3-winner Gufo continue to train towards the Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, a 10-furlong test on October 3 offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Gufo [49.45] and Decorated Invader [49.49] worked together on the Belmont inner turf on September 13 and trainer Christophe Clement said both horses are in good order with the Belmont Derby the main goal although the Grade 2, $150,000 Hill Prince at one mile on the turf for 3-year-olds on October 12 remains a possibility for Decorated Invader.
“They are both doing great and they will train again together this weekend. I’m quite happy with the two of them,” said Clement. “Both horses are training toward the Belmont Derby but a final decision has not been made yet.”
Both of the talented colts are by Declaration of War and made their last start on August 15 in the Saratoga Derby Invitational won by Domestic Spending in which Gufo closed to finish second, defeated a head, with a pace prompting Decorated Invader in fifth, less than a length back.
Decorated Invader captured the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine last September and entered the Saratoga Derby undefeated in 2020 with wins in the Cutler Bay at Gulfstream, Grade 2 Pennine Ridge at Belmont and Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga.
Gufo also entered his last start undefeated in 2020 after wins in an optional-claiming route and the English Channel at Gulfstream ahead of making the grade in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park.
Clement notched 20 wins at the recently concluded Saratoga summer meet, good for third in the standings, and will look to start out the Belmont fall meet in style when saddling previously unraced 2-year-old Space Launch and up-and-coming New York-bred Jewel of Arabia on Friday’s 10-race card.
By Bernardini, Space Launch is out of Grade 2-winner Spacy Tracy and is a half-brother to graded-stakes winners Victim of Love [third last out in the Grade 1 Ballerina] and Benner Island.
He will travel one mile on the Widener turf at first asking from the inside post in Friday’s sixth race under Manny Franco for owners Athlone Racing and Daniel and Jane Burke.
After spending the summer training at Saratoga for Clement, Space Launch worked an easy five-eighths in 1:03.65 on September 12 on the Belmont main track.
“I like him. He’s training well, so we’ll see what happens. He’s a nice horse,” said Clement.
Sumaya U.S. Stable’s New York-bred Jewel of Arabia enters Friday’s eighth race, a 6 1/2-furlong optional-claiming sprint for state-breds, on the back of two impressive wins including a seven-length maiden win in July on a sloppy Belmont main track and a three-length score last out in a state-bred allowance sprint on July 31 at Saratoga that garnered a career-best 80 Beyer Speed Figure.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 4 aboard the sophomore daughter of Daredevil, who was bred in the Empire State by SF Bloodstock.
Photo: Declaration of War’s son Decorated Invader wins the 2020 Hall of Fame Stakes. Credit: NYRA/Coglianese Photos