(Decorated Invader / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Trainer Christophe Clement said Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader could be a possibility for the $100,000 Seek Again on Saturday in a one-mile turf contest for 4-year-olds and up at Belmont Park after breezing five furlongs in 1:02.87 yesterday over Belmont’s inner turf course.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader might skip the Seek Again and be shipped out to California, with Clement saying the Grade 1, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on May 31 at Santa Anita is also under consideration.

“We can run him back either this weekend or go to California, we just have to think about it,” Clement said. “The race in California is also a mile, so we’ll see.”

Decorated Invader, who won the Grade 1 Summer as a juvenile going one mile in September 2019 over Woodbine’s turf course, twice won graded stakes in his sophomore campaign. Back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last June at Belmont, as well as in his next start in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga Race Course, helped give the Declaration of War colt four stakes wins in his career.

In his 2021 debut, Decorated Invader ran third off a nearly five-month layoff in the Danger’s Hour on April 10 going one mile over the Aqueduct Racetrack turf.

Clement said he expected more from that effort but is looking forward to the upcoming start, regardless of which coast he chooses for the Kentucky bred.

“I was actually very disappointed; he had trained OK, but I was unhappy with the race, unhappy with the trip and unhappy with everything, but that’s OK, we just turned the page and moved on,” Clement said.

Creative Cairo, who also covered five furlongs in 1:02.87 Saturday on the inner turf, broke her maiden last out in her second start, edging Miss Bonnie T by a nose in a 1 1/8-mile turf route on April 10 at the Big A. The 3-year-old Cairo Prince filly, who garnered a 74 Beyer for the win, is now on target for the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again on the opening day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Thursday, June 3.

Owned and bred by Brereton C. Jones, Creative Cairo made her debut in March, running fourth in a one-mile turf contest at Gulfstream Park.

“She worked yesterday morning very well and now we’ll get ready for the Wonder Again,” Clement said. “We’re very happy with her, so we’ll just have to keep going.”

Clement said Plum Ali, owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables, is also on target for the Wonder Again.

Plum Ali, who won the Mint Juvenile Fillies in September at Kentucky Downs and won her only previous Belmont start with a victory in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo in October at Belmont, capped her 2-year-old year with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Keeneland.

Plum Ali returned to run third in her 2021 bow in the Grade 2 Appalachian on April 3 at Keeneland. Plum Ali breezed a half-mile in 50.55 seconds on Sunday over Belmont’s inner turf course.

Bach Stables’ Bye Bye handled the step up in class with aplomb Saturday, holding off Invincible Gal’s late charge to win her stakes debut by a neck in the Grade 3, $100,000 Soaring Softly over firm going on Belmont’s Widener turf course in her stakes debut.

Making just her third start overall – and just second on turf – Bye Bye earned an 83 Beyer for the effort, improving her number in every start. Jockey Eric Cancel piloted Bye Bye to victory from the outermost post in the 11-horse field, with Clement saying a day later he was happy to see that effort.

Clement said he was still unsure of Bye Bye’s next start, though the sophomore Into Mischief filly, unraced as a juvenile, has won her last two starts.

“I was very happy and for Bach Stables, they deserve it,” Clement said. “I was thrilled. She was good enough to win. She keeps improving. She was training well coming into the race. I don’t know yet where we’ll go next, but we’ll just enjoy it and go from there.”


Belmont Stakes contender Rebel’s Romance settling in well at Belmont Park

A talented quartet of Charlie Appleby-trained Godolphin runners – Rebel’s Romance, Desert Peace, Summer Romance and Althiqa –have settled in comfortably in New York in preparation for starts during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that runs from June 3 through Saturday, June 5, headlined by the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.

All four of Appleby’s runners, who arrived in New York on May 2, are expected to compete during the festival, with Group 2 UAE Derby-winner Rebel’s Romance pointed to the Belmont Stakes on June 5.

The geldings Rebel’s Romance and Desert Peace were initially based in Dubai, while the fillies Summer Romance and Althiqa, shipped from the U.K.

“They’re settling in great and are very relaxed and happy in their routine,” said travelling assistant Sophie Chretien. “It’s very nice here. The people are taking good care of us and the horses are very happy in the barn. It’s a little like being in the country which is what they need. There’s a bit of grass to pick in the morning, fresh air and they’re really settled.”

Chretien is joined on the journey by Michael Metcalfe, exercise rider for Rebel’s Romance and Summer Romance, and Patrice Pot, who gallops Desert Peace and Althiqa.

On Sunday, Rebel’s Romance and Desert Peace went out at 7:30 a.m. for a jog and a mile canter on the 1 1/2-mile main track, with a similar routine followed later in the morning by the two fillies.

Chretien said the serious work will begin next weekend, with all four horses expected to breeze.

“Next week, the boys will have their first piece of work together on the main track, and the girls will go on the turf together,” said Chretien. “We have three weeks to hit the target now.”

Rebel’s Romance, a sophomore son of Dubawi, is an Irish homebred out of the Street Cry mare Minidress. A winner of 4-of-5 starts, Rebel’s Romance made the grade last out with a 5 1/2-length romp in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby on March 27 at Meydan.

Chretien said the sizable Rebel’s Romance is taking well to the expansive Belmont main track.

“I think he’s moving well over it. The rider is very happy with him,” said Chretien. “He’s a big boy. When he won the [UAE] Derby, he needed time to get into his rhythm. He’s a big machine. The big track will suit him. He needs to be able to use his stride. The longer distance will be good for him.”

Desert Peace, a 4-year-old son of Curlin, was a $1.3 million purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The Kentucky-bred was a nose winner last out traveling one-mile on May 11 over the Meydan main track.

There is no specific target confirmed yet for Desert Peace, but the Grade 2, $300,000 True North, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up on June 4 is a possibility.

Summer Romance and Althiqa, who finished first and third last out in the nine-furlong Group 2 Balanchine on February 18 at Meydan, are targeting the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game, a one-mile turf event for older fillies and mares on June 5.

Jockey assignments have yet to be arranged for the Godolphin contenders.

For information and details on Belmont Stakes Racing Festival hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com. For full terms and conditions, visit https://www.belmontstakes.com/tickets.

For comprehensive information on health and safety protocols in effect for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, please visit: https://www.nyra.com/belmont/visit/plan-your-visit.


Dreams of Tomorrow to target G3 Poker

Following a triumph against winners in a one-mile turf allowance at Belmont Park on Saturday, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said he will point Dreams of Tomorrow to the Grade 3, $250,000 Poker on June 20.

Owned by Phipps Stable, the 4-year-old Speightstown bay came from eight lengths off the pace, inched his way into contention leaving the backstretch and drew off to a 4 ¼-length victory over the Widener turf course. The victory earned a Dreams of Tomorrow a career-best 94 Beyer.

Dreams of Tomorrow broke his maiden at sixth asking in his 2020 bow going nine furlongs over the inner turf course at Aqueduct before respectable placings against winners in his first two starts this year. He arrived at Saturday’s engagement off a close third in the Henry Clark on April 24 at Pimlico Race Course, where McGaughey made an equipment change and removed the blinkers.

“He had been consistent,” McGaughey said of Dreams of Tomorrow, who boasts a 10-2-3-3 record. “I took the blinkers off and ran him in the stake in Maryland. He relaxed a little better than he had with the blinkers. He was only beaten a short margin that day and came out of it well and trained well. It was nice to see him finish as strong as he did. Hopefully, we’ll have some fun with him as we go down the line.”

A Kentucky homebred, Dreams of Tomorrow is the first progeny out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Sabbatical, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winning turf millionaire Imagining. She is a direct descendant of prestigious blue hen broodmares Numbered Account and La Troienne.

McGaughey also spoke of impressive first-out maiden winner First Captain, who registered a 93 Beyer on debut going seven furlongs on April 24 at Belmont Park.

The son of Curlin, out of Grade 1-placed America, was a $1.5 million purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale in 2019 and is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm, Bobby Flay and Woodford Racing.

“We’ll try to find an allowance race for him, something along that line and take it from there,” McGaughey said. “We’ve always thought he was a good horse, it just took him a while to get there. I was pleased with the way he ran and we hope he has a nice future in front of him.”

McGaughey was at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, where he saddled Phipps Stables’ Vigilantes Way to a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Gallorette. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro bay filly bobbled at the start and took back to fourth before making a late stretch run to finish second to pacesetter Mean Mary.

“She didn’t clear the break all that well, so that forced us back,” McGaughey said. “I was very pleased with the race. Mean Mary is a graded stakes winner and she was on an easy lead. We were second best but getting to her at the end. Her future is in front of her. I’d like to stretch her out at some point.”

McGaughey sent out Grade 1-placed Alandra to victory in a second-level allowance going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Owned by Helen C. Alexander and Helen K. Groves, the 4-year-old Blame bay filly made her second start of the year, previously finishing second to stakes winner Water White at the same conditions at Aqueduct.

McGaughey said Alandra will more than likely make her next start against stakes company.

“We’ll see how she comes out of her race and then map something out,” McGaughey said.


Ward considering Saratoga stakes with Happy Soul, Red Ghost

Trainer Wesley Ward said he is already planning out a trip to Saratoga for two of his recent impressive winners.

Following a second on debut, Gayla Rankin’s Happy Soul broke her maiden with flying colors when drawing away to a 11 ¾ length victory on May 13 at Belmont Park. The daughter of medication-free second-crop sire Runhappy was never in doubt, completing the five-furlong journey in 58.02 while recording an 80 Beyer Speed Figure.

Ward said the athletic bay will target the six-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville on July 15 at the Spa.

“She’s a nice filly and ran a good race,” Ward said. “It looks like she can still grow into a nice frame. We’re going to point for the Schuylerville with her. We’ve always had aspirations of the [Grade 1, $300,000] Spinaway [on September 5], but it’s one race at a time.”

Known for his ability to win at a high percentage with first-time starters, Ward said his training program was hindered by Mother Nature earlier this year when inclement winter weather rolled through the Lexington, Kentucky area.

“This year, most of my 2-year-olds were broken, and stayed, at Keeneland,” Ward said. “There was some bad weather that came through the area that caused the track to freeze. For two weeks, my horses didn’t leave the barn, so they were a little short for that reason. In years past, they would typically get broken in Florida and then come straight to the track from there.”

On Friday, Ward saw Douglas Scharbauer’s homebred Red Ghost capture the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

The daughter of Ghostzapper set the pace in the six-furlong event while receiving some outside pressure from two-time winner Euphoric. In upper stretch, Red Ghost lost the lead to Euphoric, but battled gamely along the rail as stakes-placed Joyful Cadence launched her bid to the outside. A resilient Red Ghost found a new gear at the right time and re-rallied to put her nose on the wire for the victory.

Unbeaten in both starts this season, Red Ghost arrived at her graded stakes score off a two-length allowance win on April 16 at Keeneland. Following a triumphant 8 ½-length debut, she was a distant seventh in the Untapable on September 15 at Kentucky Downs.

“We’ve always had high hopes for her,” Ward said. “We gave her some time off after the race at Kentucky Downs and she came back strong.”

Ward said he has the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test on August 7 at Saratoga in mind following Friday’s win, which garnered an 83 Beyer, and said he could race her back in the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride on July 10 at Belmont Park as well.

“I don’t want to rush her back,” Ward said. “Breeding wise, one mile should be within her scope. So, we’ll have the Test be a long term goal and we’ll keep the Victory Ride in mind and decide as we get closer.”

Red Ghost is out of the Elusive Quality mare Better Than Most, making her a half-sister to 2013 Texas Horse of the Year Worldventurer and 2016 Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Filly More Than Most. Her second dam Alysbelle is a full sister to 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba.

M Racing Group’s Like the King registered his first work since finishing 12th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs, when travelling five furlongs in 1:02.40 over the Louisville oval’s turf course.

The Ward trained son of third-crop sire and 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice is a possible candidate for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 10 – the first leg of the Turf Triple series.

Although nominated for the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge on May 29 at Belmont Park, Ward said Like the King will likely make his next start in the $150,000 Audubon at Churchill Downs.

“We’ll probably run in the Audubon,” Ward said. “We’re looking at the Belmont Derby as well, but this next race will tell the tale. He had a beautiful breeze this morning over the turf at Churchill Downs.”

Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Like the King came from off the pace to capture the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 27 over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park. He broke his maiden over grass going one mile on September 9 at Belterra Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Horseshoe Racing, Like the King is the first progeny out of the graded stakes placed Corinthian mare Like a Queen.

Ward had two maiden winners sprinting five furlongs over the Widener turf course on May 9 when Andrew Farm, For the People Racing and Windmill Manor Farm’s Lucci and Stonestreet Stables’ Twilight Gleaming broke their respective maidens in gate-to-wire fashion.

Lucci was a three-length winner at first asking under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, while Twilight Gleaming, who finished second on the Keeneland dirt at first asking, graduated by 7 ¼-lengths in her turf debut.

Ward reported that both juveniles will target the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in June.

A dark bay son of leading second crop-sire Not This Time, Lucci will target the Group 2, $110,000 Norfolk on June 17, while Twilight Gleaming, a daughter of National Defense, eyes the Group 2, $110,000 Queen Mary on June 16.

Ward said Twilight Gleaming has found a home on the turf.

“Twilight Gleaming was broken and trained at Stonestreet in Ocala,” Ward said. “She’s better on the grass, but when she was training at Gulfstream Park West, she showed an affinity for the dirt so that’s why we started her out on dirt.”


Get Smokin readies for Seek Again with Belmont breeze

Two-time graded stakes-winner Get Smokin recorded a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.56 over the Belmont inner turf course on Saturday as a final prep for the $100,000 Seek Again for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the turf at Belmont on May 22.

Get Smokin, owned by Mary Abeel Sullivan Revocable Trust, will be returning to Belmont for the first time since winning the Grade 2 Hill Prince going one mile over a yielding turf course in October. After ending 2020 with a competitive fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby that saw him hit the wire just three-quarters of a length back to Domestic Spending in a blanket finish in November at Del Mar, the Tom Bush trainee started his 4-year-old year with his second graded stakes score.

Get Smokin dueled in second position before taking command in the stretch and posting a win by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay going 1 1/16 miles in February. After tying his personal Beyer high mark of 95 set in the Hollywood Derby, Get Smokin tired in the one-mile Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile, running eighth last out on April 9 at Keeneland.

But Bush said the 4-year-old Get Stormy gelding has trained forwardly since.

“He’s doing well and we’re planning on running in the race on Saturday,” Bush said. “He came out of his last race at Keeneland really well and he’s had a couple of nice works since, so we’re ready to run.”

Bush said he’s been impressed with Get Smokin’s training, though the Seek Again could draw a talented field as a prep race for the one-mile Grade 3, $250,000 Poker set for Sunday, June 20 at Belmont.

“He’s improved as we’ve gone along. We’re very pleased with his conditioning and we think he’s going to fire for us,” Bush said. “It’s a prep for the Poker, so I’m sure it won’t be a gimmie.”

Get Smokin, 3-3-2 in 13 career starts with earnings of $321,040, broke his maiden at second asking at Belmont in September 2019 and also won his first stakes with his Hill Prince win that netted a 91 Beyer.