Big Invasion returns in $150K Harvey Pack
by Keith McCalmont
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s graded stakes-winner Big Invasion will look to keep his perfect Spa record intact in Saturday’s listed $150,000 Harvey Pack, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older horses, at Saratoga Race Course.
The Harvey Pack, formerly the Lucky Coin, honors the late broadcasting pioneer, who for more than three decades was one of the best-known personalities in New York racing. At NYRA, Pack created and hosted racing replay shows like “Thoroughbred Action” and “Inside Racing,” and as its Director of Promotions and Special Events, he created and hosted “The Paddock Club” at Belmont and Saratoga in which fans gathered to discuss racing and handicapping, often joined by special guests.
Trained by Christophe Clement, Big Invasion is 2-for-2 at Saratoga, making the grade in the Grade 3 Quick Call presented by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation last July ahead of a three-length score one month later in the Mahony.
The 4-year-old Declaration of War colt captured the five-furlong Silks Run in his seasonal debut in March at Gulfstream Park and two starts later finished a late-closing second to Caravel in the six-furlong Grade 1 Jaipur on June 10 at Belmont Park.
He then traveled to Royal Ascot and finished 13th in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee when racing on two week’s rest.
Clement’s son and assistant trainer, Miguel Clement, noted that punters can draw a line through both the Royal Ascot effort and a troubled outing when seventh under Joel Rosario in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint in May at Churchill Downs.
“The travel really was unfortunate,” Clement said of the Royal Ascot journey. “He missed his first flight and we had to re-route him, and door-to-door, it took about 35 hours to get there. The journey was taxing.
“His races have been so consistent, and his only other poor performance this year was at Churchill, which wasn’t his fault,” added Clement. “Joel had no racing luck and was boxed in and had to eat it the whole way. He tries hard and he’s doing great. He’s a top-class horse.”
Big Invasion was freshened following his European adventure and has breezed back twice over the Oklahoma dirt training track, including a half-mile effort in 49.75 on August 23.
“He’s been training well since Royal Ascot. I’m not sure if he’s 100 percent ready, but a horse with his ability – sometimes you get away with fitness just because they’re so talented. With turf sprinters, fitness is not as imperative,” Clement said.
Rosario, aboard for both Spa scores, retains the mount from post 4 on Big Invasion, who sports a ledger of 12-7-2-1 for purse earnings of $644,365.
The stakes-placed Our Shot [post 5, Javier Castellano] enters from a swift optional-claiming score on July 26 over this surface and distance.
Trained and co-owned by John Terranova with Gatsas Stables and Steven Schoenfeld, the 4-year-old Kantharos chestnut blitzed through splits of 21.80 seconds and 44.28 over the firm footing while battling on the lead with Coppola. He put a head in front at the stretch call and staved off a bid from dual graded-stakes winner Arrest Me Red to notch a head win in a final time of 1:01.51.
Our Shot, who owns a 5-3-1-0 record on turf, earned a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure for a three-length allowance score over multiple graded stakes-winner Bound for Nowhere in April at Keeneland ahead of a close second to Grooms All Bizness two starts back in the Get Serious on June 18 at Monmouth Park.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Dr. S. Mark Rayburg, the $135,000 purchase from the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale is out of the stakes-placed Northern Afleet mare Fleetheart, who is a full-sister to multiple stakes-winner Afleet Angel and a half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Guardianofthegate.
J and N Stables and Diamond M Stable’s New York-bred graded stakes-winner Dancing Buck [post 2, Manny Franco] returns from a nine-month layoff for trainer Michelle Nevin.
The 5-year-old War Dancer gelding finished second to returning rival Thin White Duke in this event last summer ahead of a five-length romp in the Grade 3 Belmont Turf Sprint in October at Belmont at the Big A that garnered a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Dancing Buck, bred by J and N Stables, was last seen finishing sixth in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship on November 25 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The multiple graded stakes-placed Thin White Duke [post 3, Jose Lezcano] has banked $600,105 through a 28-5-4-7 record for trainer David Donk.
Owned by his former conditioner Philip Gleaves in partnership with Steve Crist, Ken DeRegt and Bryan Hilliard, the 5-year-old Dominus gelding enjoyed a strong summer here last year with a 1-1-1 record from three starts led by his nose score in the Lucky Coin. He rallied from last-of-7 to finish third in the Grade 3 Troy last August, a neck back of the victorious dual Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal.
Thin White Duke’s most recent win came in an optional-claiming sprint in October at Belmont at the Big A and he has hit the board in 3-of-8 starts since led by a third on August 5 over soft going in the Grade 3 Troy.
Rounding out the field are multiple stakes winner Chess Master [post 6, Isaac Castillo], who races first off the claim for trainer Jorge Abreu; and the Jason Barkley-conditioned five-time winner Mister Mmmmm [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.]. Willy Boi, Sheriff Bianco and Jake Rocks are entered for the main-track only.
The Harvey Pack is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 12-race card which is headlined by the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, in race 11. Also featured Saturday are the Grade 2, $500,00 Flower Bowl, which offers an automatic berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, in Race 3, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress in Race 5. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.
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