Invasor saw a lot of the world before he ever saw the United States. Since then, he's seen nothing but winner's circles -- the latest at Saratoga after Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Handicap.
The 4-year-old, Argentine-bred son of Candy Stripes started his career with a five-race winning streak in Uruguay, including a romp in the Gran Primio Nacional, or Uruguay Derby. He then went to the UAE Derby for Shadwell Stable, where he finished a credible fourth behind Discreet Cat and some other international stars.
Two months later, the bay colt resurfaced at Pimlico, where he posted a mild upset in winning the Pimlico Special. Then he traveled up the coast to Belmont, where he easily won the Suburban Handicap.
Saturday, Invasor stumbled out of the gate in the Whitney, but then settled in good position in mid-pack under Fernando Jara down the backstretch. Midway on the turn, he got past the favorite, Flower Alley and came four-wide to take the lead. Then, he was all out to hang on and beat a resurgent Sun King by a head bob at the wire.
West Virginia came from last of nine to take third while Flower Alley faded to finish seventh.
Invasor ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.06.
"I was worried at the eighth pole," said winning trainer Kieran McLaughlin. "We had been in a fight throughout and Sun King came to us. We were in a dogfight. It was a great race."
Asked about the rest of the year, leading up to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, McLaughlin said, "We're not sure about the Woodward or the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Sheikh Hamden asked us to run him once more before the Breeders' Cup ... .Two more wins and we might have Uruguay's Horse of the Year and America's Horse of the Year."
Trainer Nick Zito said he was happy with Sun King's effort but sad about the result. "It's heartbreaking ... .But what are you going to do," he said. And trainer Todd Pletcher said Flower Alley "came up a little empty at the three-eighths pole and I'm not really sure why right now."
Meanwhile, the 3-year-olds continued to sort themselves out looking toward the Breeders' Cup Classic.
-- Bluegrass Cat, second in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, romped home a 7-lengths winner in Saturday's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. Praying for Cash was the best of the rest and Strong Contender finished third. Bluegrass Cat, a son of Storm Cat from the A.P. Indy mare She's a Winner, ran the 9 furlongs under John Velazquez in 1:48.85. The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher. "He has been doing so well since the Belmont that we were enthusiastic about this race," Pletcher said. "But you never envision something as dominating as this." Asked about the chances of matching up with Bernardini in the Travers, Pletcher said: "We only have 20 days to the Travers, which gives horses who ran in the Jim Dandy an extra week on us. We'll let him tell us how he bounces out of this."
-- At Mountaineer Park, Bright One led from gate to wire in winning Sunday's $750,000 West Virginia Derby by 5 3/4 lengths over Cielo Gold. More than Regal was third. Bright One, a Kentucky-bred son of Dance Brightly, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.08. Mark Guidry was up for trainer Dale Romans. The lightly raced colt now has three wins and one second from four starts, including the Forestry Handicap at Churchill Downs in his last previous try. Romans has compared Bright One to such as Kitten's Joy and Roses in May, although he says the colt has a ways to go to reach their level of achievement.
-- On the Haskell undercard at Monmouth, Presious Passion survived a bumpy start to win the $100,000 Jersey Derby by a nose over Rock Lobster, with Extra Bend another nose back in third. Presious Passion, a Florida-bred gelding by Royal Anthem, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.02 for jockey Eddie Castro.
In other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
-- Saturday's $250,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga turned into the longshot player's dream as Swap Fliparoo came along on the rail in the stretch run to best pace-setter Original Spin by 2 lengths, with Misty Rosette completing a $17,145 trifecta. The favorite, Ready to Please, was involved in a bumper-car start and faded to finish last of 13. Swap Fliparoo, a Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.13 with Eibar Coa in the irons. "We might run her in the fall a little further," said winning trainer Allen Jerkens. "I think a mile and a quarter might be a little much for her."
-- Healthy Addiction dueled for the lead in Sunday's $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar, got the lead on the stretch turn and edged clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Happy Ticket, the favorite. Star Parade finished third. Healthy Addiction, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Boston Harbor, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:42.92 with Victor Espinoza aboard for trainer John Sadler. Sadler said Healthy Addiction may get another try on the turf but then likely will be retired and bred to Tiznow. "She's a top-class mare here in Southern California but she just doesn't travel very well," he said.
-- Prospective Saint, the even-money favorite, dueled with Maggie Slew all the way around in Saturday's $150,000 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park, then inched out to win by 1/2 length. Plaid was third. Prospective Saint, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Saint Ballado, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.13 with Eddie Castro up.
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- Unbridled Sidney led from the start in Saturday's $250,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Championship at Calder Racecourse and romped home a 3 1/2-lengths winner over Jewels N Gems. Whenthedoveflies finished third. Unbridled Sidney, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Unbridled's Song, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.36 seconds for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. "She likes to hear her feet rattle," said winning trainer Ronny Werner. "We ran her on the dirt at Oaklawn in her first start this year simply because there weren't any turf races."
-- Nicole's Dream, running against males, also led the way to a 1-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 Turf Sprint Handicap at Calder. Atticus Kristy, the favorite, bobbled at the start and closed with a rush but couldn't quite get there. Nacascolo finished third. Nicole's Dream, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Northern Trend, ran 5 furlongs in 55.44 seconds with E.T. Baird riding. "We'll take her back to the farm in Ocala where she spends the winter months," said trainer Larry Rivelli, "give her a week off, and then back to Arlington before we look for another spot. This was her Breeders' Cup."
-- Dave the Knave hopped leaving the gate in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Shepperton Stakes at Woodbine, came three-wide to get the lead with a furlong to run and drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Millfleet. Mister Coop was third. Dave the Knave, a 4-year-old son of Whiskey Wisdom, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:30.55.
-- Yucatan came four-wide around the leaders on the turn in Sunday's $125,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Mountaineer Park and went on to win by 3 lengths. P. Kerney was second and Wild Tale third. Yucatan, a 5-year-old Favorite Trick gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.35 with Dana Whitney up.
$3 million John Deere Turf
The final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders' Stakes, is run at 1 1/2 miles on the turf -- the same recipe as the Breeders' Cup Turf. In Sunday's edition of the Woodbine race, Royal Challenger came flying from the back of the pack to get the lead in the stretch under Patrick Husbands, then held on to beat the favorite, French Beret, by a neck. Shillelagh Slew finished third. Royal Challenger, a chestnut son of Touch of Gold, finished in 2:28.66.
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Therecomesatiger pounced on the leaders deep in the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Sea O Erin Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park and emerged with a head victory over Le Cinquieme Essai. Fort Prado was third. Therecomesatiger, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Tiger Ridge, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.15 for jockey Mark Guidry. "They went pretty slow," said Guidry. "I thought there would be a little better pace. I followed (Le Cinquieme Essai) all the way around there. Turning for home, it was a good race all the way to the wire."
-- In Sunday's $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, Remarkable News led from gate to wire in defeating only four rivals. At the line, the 4-year-old, Venezuelan-bred beat Ashkal Way by 2 1/2 lengths with Diamond Green third. Artie Schiller faded to finish fourth and Noble Causeway completed the order of finish. Remarkable News ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm going in 1:40.81 for jockey Javier Castellano. Remarkable News now has four wins in six starts this season for trainer Angel Penna Jr. Artie Schiller won last year's Mile at Belmont Park but is winless in three tries this season.
-- Island Escape stayed close to the pace early in Sunday's $125,000 West Virginia Senate President's Breeders' Cup Stakes for fillies and mares, then took charge coming out of the turn and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Stella Blue. Bag of Quarters finished third. Island Escape, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Petionville, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.24 for jockey Jesus Castenon.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Two of the best international grass mares hooked up in Saturday's Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in England and it was Ouija Board besting Alexander Goldrun by the narrowest of margins after a classic stretch battle. With Frankie Dettori aboard, Ouija Board made the lead with three furlongs to run. Kelvin Manning brought Alexander Goldrun alongside and headed Ouija Board. Ouija Board fought back and the final margin was a head. Nannina was third. Ouija Board reportedly will head for the United States to prepare for the Breeders's Cup, which she won two years ago. Alexander Goldrun, meanwhile, will try the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 9 at Leopardstown.
-- Ready's Gal stalked the pace in Sunday's $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park, challenged for the lead in upper stretch and then held on to win by 1/2 length over Prop Me Up. Humoristic finished third. The favorite, Masseuse, was eased in the early going and vanned off. Ready's Gal, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by More Than Ready, ran the 1 1/8 mile on firm turf in 1:48.77 for John Velazquez. She is trained by Todd Pletcher.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Straight Faced kicked off this year's Florida Stallion Stakes series with a 4 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Dr. Fager Division at Calder Race Course. The son of Straight Man rallied from a stalking position and drew off to score his third straight win. Villainage was second and El Bandido was third. Straight Faced ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.90 with Manoel Cruz in the irons. "He did everything right training from the time he got here," said winning trainer Stephen DiMauro. "I wasn't riding him but it looked like he did it pretty easy today." He said the "logical" thing is to run Straight Faced back in the 7-furlong Affirmed Division on Sept. 2.
-- Tis a Man dead-heated with Hadacure for the win in Saturday's $50,000 James C. Elllis Juvenile Stakes at Ellis Park, but then was down to third for interference in the stretch run. That left Hadacure the winner, with the fouled contender, Western Prize, moved up to second and Tis a Man was relegated to third. Hadacure is a Texas-bred gelding by Hadif. He finished the 7 furlongs in 1:23.36 under Brian Hernandez Jr. "He's a pretty nice colt," said winning trainer Joe Patalino. "He showed a lot of ability early."
-- Tortuga Straits rallied three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 John Franks Memorial Sale Stakes at Evengeline Downs and ran off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Atta Boy Jake. Big Al's Choice was third. Tortuga Straits, a Louisiana-bred son of Gold Tribute, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.96 with Luis Quinonez up.
-- Speedway sat behind a quick pace in Sunday's $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile, angled out entering the stretch and drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Datrick. The favorite, Air Lord, was third. Speedway, a Kentucky-bred son of Forest Wildcat, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.93 with Jeremy Rose up.
$2 million Juvenile Fillies
-- If Saturday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar is the benchmark, you can close the futures book on this race. Untouched Talent, a Storm Cat filly out of an A.P. Indy mare, stalked the pace along the rail, came out like a pro on the turn and accelerated to a 3-length victory without much urging from jockey Victor Espinoza. Outofthepast finished second and Smart n'Quiet was third. Untouched Talent, a $500,000 sale purchase in March, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.20, winning for the second time in two tries. Espinoza said he had the filly under wraps most of the way. "I like her for the Debutante here and then the Breeders' Cup," he said. "You've got to think big -- think for the future." Trainer Jeff Bonde confirmed the Debutante on Sept. 2 is the next goal.
-- Snow Lady got to the lead racing three-wide around the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Desert Vixon Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder, opened up a daylight lead and then held on to win by a neck over Silkily. Flipaway was third. Snow Lady, a daughter of Snow Ridge, ran 6 furlongs in 1:13.94 with Abel Castellano up. The favorite, Perfect Lie, had some serious traffic issues on the turn and got home fifth. "She looks like she is going to want to run farther," said winning trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. "Padua (Stables, the owner) sent her to me with the idea to run in the Florida Stallion Stakes and they were right." He said the plan now is to go on to the Susan's Girl Division on Sept. 2.
-- Midnight Shadow, the odds-on favorite, dueled for the lead in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Nandi Stakes for Ontarion-bred juvenile fillies at Woodbine, got to the clear three-wide turning for home and drove to a 1 1/4-length victory over Only If Split. River Barrow finished third. Midnight Shadow, by Trajectory, ran 5 furlongs in 58.02 with Ray Sabourin up.
-- Cowgirls Don't Cry sat right behind the leader in Saturday's $50,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park, went by with three furlongs to run and finished on top, 1 length to the good of High Heels. Get Ready Bertie was third. Cowgirls Don't Cry, a Kentucky-bred filly by Pure Prize, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.79 with Larry Melancon up for trainer Todd Pletcher, who finally won one at the Beanpatch. "This filly breaks well and I let her place herself," said Melancon. "The filly's going to go two turns. She's definitely going to improve."
-- Change Up dueled for the lead in Sunday's $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies, got the advantage after a half-mile and ran off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Appealing Zophie. Spooked finished third. Change Up, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Distorted Humor, ran 6 furlongs for jockey Jesus Castenon in 1:10.03.
In other weekend racing:
My Lucky Free made short work of seven rivals in Sunday's $100,000 Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and mares, drawing off in the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths over Notimetoquit. Summer Sting finished third. My Lucky Free ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.15 with Charles Lopez up. She is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Mazel Trick.
Three Valleys got the best of Hotstufandthensome in deep stretch to win Sunday's $150,000 Oceanport Stakes by a neck. Rebel Rebel finished third with a late run. Three Valleys, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Diesis, ran 1 1/16 mile on the firm turf in 1:40.06.
Who's the Cowboy showed who's the best in Sunday's $100,000 Teddy Drone Stakes, coming around all six rivals on the turn and working clear to a 1 1/4-length win over Kazoo. Maddy's Lion finished third. Who's the Cowboy, a 4-year-old, Jersey-bred son of Intensity, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.82 for Edwin King Jr.
Coach Jimi Lee was the heaviest of favorites -- and the easiest of winners -- in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint. After pressing the early pace, the 6-year-old Roar gelding got the lead at the top of the stretch and drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Dragooner. Honor Pursuit was third. Coach Jimi Lee, with Eduardo Perez in the irons, negotiated 6 furlongs in 1:08.85. "He's doing as good as he ever has," said winning trainer Jim DiVito. "He's holding his form well. Hopefully we can keep going." Five of the gelding's 15 career wins have come at the Iowa oval.
Now Victory rallied four-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap and prevailed in a long stretch battle with Capitano, winning by a head. First Rate Event was the third-place finisher. Now Victory, a 5-year-old, Californina-bred gelding by Sharp Victor, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the fair circuit's premier turf course in 1:42.45 with Frank Alvarado handling the reins.
Dontbotherknocking came from well back to challenge the leaders on the turn in Saturday's $75,000 John Bullit Stakes, got the advantage and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Gin and Sin. Home of Stars finished third. Dontbotherknocking, an 8-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Farma Way, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:42.32. Derek Bell was up.
In Return stalked the pace early in Saturday's $60,000 Eatontown Staybridge Suites Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, went to the lead when asked at the sixteenth pole and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Zaynab. Mambo With G, the early leader, held on for third. In Return, a Kentucky-bred filly by Horse Chestnut, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:39.91.
Kalyrra went by the early leaders turning for home in Saturday's $50,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and ran off to a 7 3/4-lengths victory. Specific was second and Maria Pia third. Kalyrra, a Kentucky-bred filly by Chester House, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.51.
Act of God broke at the back of a 12-horse field in Saturday's $50,000 Regaey Island Stakes for 3-year-olds, had some traffic issues with a half-mile to go and still managed to get off for a 2 3/4-length victory. Sea of Trees was second with another late run and Goodtogoagain trailed along to take third. Act of God is a Pennsylvania-bred colt by Black Minnaloushe. He got the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:40.17 for jockey John Jacinto.
Celtic Innis saved ground behind the leaders early in Saturday's $60,000 Chesapeake Stakes, came out into the stretch and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Crafty Schemer. Hitthegroundrunnin was third. Celtic Innis, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred gelding by Yarrow Brae, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.85 for jockey Horacio Karamanos.
Bastille closed steadily through the stretch to win Sunday's $60,000 Polynesian Stakes by 1 length over Running Tide. Foula's Warrior finished third. Bastille, a 4-year-old Quiet American colt, completed the 1 1/16 mile on the inner turf in 1:42.67 under Joe Rocco Jr.
Distinguish scored a big upset in Saturday's $50,000 Brother Brown Stakes, rallying nicely through the lane to catch pace-setting Sweepingly in the late going for a 1/2-length victory. Proven Cure was third. Distinguish, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred horse by Wagon Limit, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.97 seconds with Justin Shepherd up.