The second running of the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational on Saturday drew a field of eight three-year-olds with the up and coming Colonel Liam facing off against an imposing duo sent out by trainer Christophe Clement.
The Todd Pletcher trained Colonel Liam (7-2) passed his first test on turf with flying colors, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure beating older first level allowance foes going 1 1/16 miles on turf.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Pletcher said. “He was the only three-year-old in that race. It was really competitive, and he handled it well, so I was happy with that. 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.”
Clement will saddle the 7-5 morning line favorite Decorated Invader, who has won three in a row, taking the Hall of Fame (G2) in his last outing. The trainer also sends out Gufo (9-2), a winner of four in a row, winning the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park in his last outing.
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“I’m very happy with how he’s been training. He looks great,” Clement said of Decorated Invader. “He’s been training with Gufo and they continue to work well and help each other. They work very willingly, so I’m excited to see both of them run.”
Hall of Fame Replay
Mike Maker sends out Field Pass (6-1), who is coming in off a victory in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland.
Completing the field are Bama Breeze (15-1), No Word (15-1), Domestic Spending (6-1) and Get Smokin (15-1).
NBC will cover the race from 5:00 to 6:00 ET, the telecast also including the $500,000 Alabama (G1) for three-year-old fillies which is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 8 The Saratoga Derby Invitational (5:07 ET)
6 Colonel Liam 7-2
5 Gufo 9-2
2 Decorated Invader 7-5
4 Domestic Spending 6-1
The Pletcher trainee is coming off a smart win versus older Alw-1 foes here on July 22 which was his first career start on turf. The colt tracked the early pace and battled on in the stretch, edging clear late to win by 2 ¾ lengths and earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. He was placed first via a DQ in his debut on the main track at Gulfstream Park back in April and then was third in the slop in his first start against winners. The colt was a $1.2 million Ocala purchase, by Liam’s Map out of a Bernardini mare that has dropped one other winner, Mahvelous Kitten ($84,723) a two-time winner on turf. He won last out as if he is going to have no trouble handling the extra ground. The colt should get a good trip sitting just off the pacesetter and may get the jump on the Clement duo.
This colt has won four of his five career starts. Last out he made a good late rally to get up and win the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park going 1 1/8 miles. The third-place finisher Vanzzy who came back to win the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park in his next outing on July 26. This guy needs some pace and should get it and he gives every indication the extra distance here will suit him. Johnny V. picks up the call and among the two Clement runners this guy is going to offer a bit more value.
This Clement trainee is going to be the deserving short priced favorite in this spot. Last out he tracked the early pace and finished gamely to win the Hall of Fame (G2) here on July 18, his third win in a row. His win two back going a mile in the Pennine Ridge (G2) was a bit more impressive. His price is going to be on the light side, and I am not convinced enough he really wants more ground.