An odds-on winner of his last two starts and 3-for-3 this year, Decorated Invader could face his stiffest test of the season on Saturday in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby.
One of two Christophe Clement-trained colts in the 1 3/16-mile grass test, the other being Kent (G3) winner Gofu, the Grade 1-winning Decorated Invader has made all the right late moves to this term, recently scoring back-to-back wins on this circuit in the Pennine Ridge (G2) and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2).
“He’s been training with Gufo and they continue to work well and help each other,” Clement said. “They work very willingly, so I’m excited to see both of them run.”
Decorated Invader’s biggest challenge might not come from Gofu, but rather from stakes newcomer Colonel Liam, who turned in an impressive 2 3/4-length win against first-level allowance company at Saratoga on July 22 in his turf debut. The son of Liam’s Map is trained by Todd Pletcher.
“He was the only 3-year-old in that race. It was really competitive and he handled it well, so I was happy with that,” Pletcher said. “I was also happy with the way he breezed back and it seems like we found what we were looking for putting him on the turf.”
Get Smokin and Domestic Spending will look to improve on their minor placings behind Decorated Invader in the Hall of Fame, while the 11-race veteran Field Pass looks for his fifth stakes win of the season following back-to-back wins in Kentucky, including a photo-finish score in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland.