Decorated Invader highlights Aqueduct’s first turf stakes of 2021 in Danger’s Hour
by Brian Bohl
The year’s first turf stakes on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit will mark the 2021 debut of three-time graded stakes-winner Decorated Invader, who will compete as part of an eight-horse field of 4-year-olds and up going one mile in Saturday’s $100,000 Danger’s Hour at Aqueduct Racetrack.
With turf racing returning for the 11-day spring meet at the Big A that started April 1 and will run through Sunday, April 18, the sixth running of the Danger’s Hour is one of two stakes on Saturday’s card, joining the $100,000 Top Flight Invitational for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Decorated Invader enters his 4-year-old year after posting three victories in six starts as a sophomore, including back-to-back Grade 2 scores in the one-mile Pennine Ridge by 4 3/4 lengths in June at Belmont Park and following with a 1 1/4-length victory in the Hall of Fame in July at Saratoga Race Course.
Trainer Christophe Clement, who won his first NYRA training title at the Aqueduct fall meet, will return to the track looking to see if Decorated Invader can win his Big A debut and boast of stakes wins at all three NYRA tracks.
“I’m excited about it; he’s training well and it’s all good,” Clement said. “He had a nice winter break. Him and [Grade 1-winner] Gufo had the same work pattern. They’ll both run at Belmont in the spring and I’m excited about both of them. Decorated Invader has been doing really good.”
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader will be entered off a nearly five-month break since ending his 2020 with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby going 1 1/8 miles at Del Mar. He has since been training at Payson Park in Florida, including a five-furlong work in 1:04.40 on Saturday.
The son of Declaration of War burst onto the scene with an impressive juvenile year in 2019, winning the Grade 1 Summer at the Danger’s Hour distance in September of that year at Woodbine Racetrack before running a competitive fourth in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. Last year, he followed up with three consecutive stakes wins at three tracks, starting with the one-mile Cutler Bay in March at Gulfstream Park before compiling his graded stakes wins.
While all of Decorated Invader’s stakes wins have come on firm turf, he ran second, just a head back to Get Smokin, in the one-mile Grade 2 Hill Prince over a yielding Belmont turf in October. The National Weather Service is calling for a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday for Ozone Park.
Jockey Junior Alvarado will pick up the mount for the first time, drawing post 4.
William Lawrence’s Analyze It is also a three-time graded stakes-winner, including the the Grade 3 Red Bank going one mile in September at Monmouth Park. Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, Analyze It will be making his first appearance since an eighth-place effort in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 3 at Keeneland.
The son of Point of Entry, now in his 6-year-old year, ran just those two races in 2020. But his return to the track was impressive enough, as the Red Bank effort marked his first start in 22 months and first race since finishing third in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Analyze It won the 2018 Grade 3 Transylvania as a 3-year-old, kickstarting an impressive campaign that saw him finish as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1 Secretariat. Overall, he is 4-3-1 in 10 starts with earnings of $853,150.
Jose Ortiz will ride in Analyze It’s Aqueduct debut, breaking from post 7.
Brown’s other entrant, the British-bred Delaware, will look to capitalize on class relief after ending last year with a 10th-place finish in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream before starting the year with an eighth-place effort in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay on February 6.
The 5-year-old son of Frankel’s last blacktype-earning effort came at Aqueduct when third in November’s Artie Schiller. Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 8.
Bond Racing Stable’s Rinaldi will be competing at two turns again, which owner and trainer H. James Bond said suits the now 5-year-old son of Posse’s strengths.
Rinaldi, bred in New York by Barry Ostrager, last raced in November, running fourth in the one-mile Artie Schiller over the turf labeled good. Though the gelding finished out of the money, he still capped his 2020 with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure, marking his highest since earning a personal-best 99 for his 1 1/2-length win in the 1 1/16-mile West Point over good turf at Saratoga in September.
After the Artie Schiller, Bond sent Rinaldi to his Song Hill farm close to Saratoga to rest and gear up for 2021. The conditioner said his charge responded well to the respite.
“He’s a solid horse who always shows up,” Bond said. “I think he’s better on two turns. Sometimes with softer turf…he likes to rattle his feet. That’s the only negative, I don’t think he’s as good as he is on a firm turf, but it’s all about the competition and how he handles it.”
Trevor McCarthy will have the call from post 2.
Godolphin’s Hieronymus, winner of four of his six career starts, will be racing for the first time since May for reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. The Kentucky homebred won two turf stakes at Fair Grounds last year, racking up consecutive scores in the Randy P. Romero Memorial and the Black Gold.
Kendrick Carmouche, fresh off his victory aboard 72-1 shot Bourbonic in last week’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, will look to sustain momentum, getting the call from the outside post.
Rounding out the field is Tiberius Mercurius, making his first start for trainer Tom Albertrani [post 5, Benjamin Hernandez] and Price Talk, who is cross-entered in an optional-claiming event Friday, was third last out in the Gio Ponti in November going 1 1/16 miles on the Aqueduct turf, for conditioner Jorge Abreu [post 3, Eric Cancel]; and Penalty, competing in his first stakes in 15 career starts, for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott [post 6, Pablo Morales]. Zoomer is entered for the main track only.
The Danger’s Hour is slated as Race 8 on the nine-race program. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
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