Euros Look Tough in Saratoga Derby Invitational

Saratoga Derby

A field of 11 go in Saturday’s $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1). (© Cheryl Quigley |

The Euro invaders look locked and loaded to dominate Saturday’s $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1), the second leg of the NYRA Triple Turf series.

The winner of the first leg was Bolshoi Ballet (2-1), who won the Belmont Derby (G1) at 1 ¼ miles on July 10 for trainer Aiden O’Brien. The son of Galileo was making his U.S. debut in the outing.

“He’s doing well and came back here in good order,” O’Brien’s assistant T.J. Comerford said. “Aidan and the team are very happy with him at the moment. If he runs to his last race, he should be right there again.”

There are four others in the 11-horse field that are coming from across the pond including the Charles Appleby trained Secret Protector (6-1) who will have Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith in the irons for the first time. The son of War Front was third in the Hampton Court Stakes (G3) at Ascot on June 17 in his last start.

“His run at Ascot was very good. I know he didn’t win but from where he was in the run to how he finished was quite striking,” Appleby’s assistant trainer Chris Connett said. “It’s going to be a tough race with Aidan’s horse and a few of the others but Charlie is fairly confident if he runs the race he run at Ascot, he will take a bit of beating.”

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Bolshoi Ballet Wins Belmont Derby

The Saratoga Derby is one of five stakes on tap on Saturday at Saratoga. The $500,000 Test (G1) for three-year-old fillies drew a field of eight led by Acorn (G1) winner Search Results.

The $250,000 Glen Falls (G2) drew a field of seven fillies and mares that will go 1 ½ miles on turf. The Bill Mott trained War Like Goddess is the 8-5 morning line favorite.

The $120,000 Lure drew 11 and one main track only entrant. Among the 11 is the Chad Brown trio of Value Proposition (2-1) who was second in the Forbidden Apple (G2) on July 16, Seek Again runner up Flavius (3-1) and Forbidden Apple third place finisher Delaware (9-2).

The $1 million Whitney (G1) is the headliner. The race drew just five but it is a quality group led by Stephen Foster (G1) winner Maxfield (8-5) and Knicks Go (6-5) who won last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Swiss Skydiver (6-1) will take on the boys again. She won the Preakness Stakes (G1) last October. Completing the field are Met Mile (G1) winner Silver State (4-1) and runner up By My Standards (10-1).

The Whitney is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Saratoga Race 10 The Saratoga Derby Inv. G1 5:10 ET

7 Secret Protector   6-1

6 Bolshoi Ballet   2-1

4 Cadillac   4-1

2 Du Jour   8-1

Secret Protector

This colt makes his U.S. debut here for the Appleby barn that has had good success with invaders to New York, running one-two in both the Diana (G1) and Just a Game (G1). This colt got his first taste of G3 company last out in the Hampton Court takes where he broke poorly, raced at the back of the pack and finished with a mild late bid to finish third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths. The winner Mahaafeth came back to run third in the York Stakes (G2) in his next outing on July 24. It looks as if the colt likes firm footing which he should get today and picks up Mike Smith who is in to ride at the Spa today. The $800,000 Keeneland purchase has a nice pedigree, by War Front out of a stakes placed Galileo mare. The barn has been sending out live runners in New York and this colt has not run a bad one in his six career starts.

Bolshoi Ballet

The O’Brien trainee is coming off a victory in the Belmont Derby (G1) at 6-5 in his U.S. debut. He bounced back after coming up short in a seventh-place finish in the Epsom Derby (G1) two back. The winner of that race was Adayar who came back to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (G1) and the third-place finisher Hurricane Lane won the Grand Prix de Paris (G1) at Longchamp in his next start. His Beyer came up light with an 86 but there was no pace in the race and ground had some give to it. Moore is back to ride and this colt is the obvious one to beat here.


A winner of three of six starts overseas, this Harrington runner is coming off a nose win in the ARM Holding International Stakes (G3) at the Curragh going 1 ¼ miles over good ground. That was his first start since his first outing to the U.S. where he was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He won a Group 2 at Leopardstown last September and then was fifth in the Dewhurst Stakes (G1) behind a talented winner in St. Mark’s Basilica who won his next three starts, most recently winning the Coral-Eclipse (G1) at Sandown on July 3. He looks capable of moving forward off his last outing and Foley is over to keep the mount.


WIN: Secret Protector to win at 9-2 or better.

EXACTA: 7 / 2,4,6,9 and 6,7 / 4,6,7

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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