GS Winners Fancy Liquor, Wootton Asset Among Allowance Rivals
11-Race Program Features Four Stakes Worth $400,000 in Purses
3YO Colt Mo Money Mo Honey Stays Undefeated in Friday Feature
LAUREL, MD – West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s Decorated Invader, a Grade 1 winner at 2 that has gone unraced in more than 16 months, is set to launch his comeback Saturday at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Decorated Invader, based in New York with trainer Christophe Clement, drew Post 11 of 12 and was installed as the narrow 5-2 program favorite in Race 5, a stakes-quality optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for one mile on the grass.
It is part of an outstanding 11-race program featuring four $100,000 stakes on closing Saturday of the nine-day fall meet – the Sensible Lady Turf Dash (Race 7) and Laurel Dash (Race 10) sprinting five furlongs on the grass, six-furlong Weather Vane (Race 8) for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs, and 1 1/16-mile Polynesian (Race 9) for 3-year-olds and up, both on the main track.
Among the rivals Decorated Invader will face are 2020 American Turf (G2) winner Fancy Liquor, unraced since Feb. 19; Wootton Asset, winner of 2021 Virginia Derby (G3) who has not been out since finishing 10th in the Twilight Derby last Halloween at Santa Anita; and stakes winner Hard Love, 10th in his return from a year between starts in July at Saratoga.
“You don’t want to bring a horse back that’s been off over a year in a stake if you can help it [but] this race is no cakewalk. It’s a good field,” West Point Executive Vice President Tom Bellhouse said. “At least three, maybe four really good horses coming off the layoff. Fingers crossed.”
Now 5, Decorated Invader won the 2019 Summer (G1) going one mile on the turf at Woodbine in his third career start then rallied from next to last to be fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He opened his sophomore year with wins in the Cutler Bay, Pennine Ridge (G2) and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2), was fifth by less than a length in the Saratoga Derby Invitational and second by a head in the Hill Prince (G2) during a 2020 season altered amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m thrilled. This horse is a special horse. Obviously, a Grade 1 winner,” Bellhouse said. “He kind of carried us through the beginning of the pandemic. We weren’t able to go to the races when he won the Cutler Bay, and the Pennine Ridge we weren’t able to attend in person. At the Hall of Fame we were able to go.
“We were really, really unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup not to win. Then he won three stakes in a row to start his 3-year-old season and had a little bit of trouble in the Saratoga Derby,” he added. “He lost by a head in the Hill Prince and then things kind of went a little sideways. But he’s an awesome horse and if we can get him back healthy and going, we’re excited. When you see him, he’s just gorgeous.”
Decorated Invader, by Declaration of War, only raced twice last year, finishing third in the Danger’s Hour at Aqueduct and fifth in the Seek Again at Belmont Park before going to the sidelines in mid-June. He was briefly in training over the winter at Payson Park in South Florida but shelved again, returning to the work tab in mid-August. Saturday’s race will be his first in 491 days.
“He had a really odd injury that was hard to diagnose,” Bellhouse said. “He’s been working up here at Saratoga. I got to watch him. He’s always been a little eager in his training, so you’re always careful not to let him do too much. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent cranked. I’m sure he’s ready to run, but I’m not expecting him to run off the screen by any means. This race was there, and we wanted to get him started.”
Kendrick Carmouche, already in town to ride Honey Pants for Clement in the Sensible Lady as well as Smash Ticket in the Weather Vane, Sea Foam in the Polynesian and Carotari in the Laurel Dash, gets the call on Decorated Invader.
“We’re just thrilled, and thrilled that Kendrick’s going to be down there to ride him,” Bellhouse said. “Christophe is very particular about who he has ride, and that’s awesome.”
3YO Colt Mo Money Mo Honey Stays Undefeated in Friday Feature
Robin Doser and Metropolitan Thoroughbreds’ undefeated 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt Mo Money Mo Honey made it three straight victories to open his career with a popular front-running 4 ¼-length triumph Friday at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Ridden by Horacio Karamanos for trainer Ben Feliciano Jr., Mo Money Money ($4) covered six furlong over a fast main track in 1:09.92, notching his second straight win over older horses in the second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up.
Mo Money Mo Honey broke running from his rail spot and quickly found himself in front pressed through a quarter-mile in 23.05 seconds and a half in 46.03 by River Dog. Karamanos sat unmoved as Mo Money Mo Honey cruised on the lead and opened up once straightened for home.
“These are older horses and there was a lot of speed in the race,” Felicano said. “But, the way he’s been winning he’s been running in hand. I just told him to break good and see where we’re at. I don’t think we would have had any trouble coming from off of it, because we did rate him last time. But we had the outside last time. This time we had the inside and I was a little nervous about getting trapped down in there, but as soon as he broke I said, ‘It’s over.’”
“If we stretch him out a little bit I think he’s going to pretty much most of the time be up there close, but there’s always a concern when you’re running horses,” he added. “That was my concern today. He might get trapped down the rail and not be able to get out, but he broke and he was gone.”
Including his 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight triumph July 16 and a six-furlong open allowance Aug. 14, both at Laurel Park, Mo Money Mo Honey has now won his races by 17 ¼ combined lengths. A son and grandson of champions, he is out of the Curlin mare Stopshoppingdebbie, who won nine of 10 career starts including eight stakes. Feliciano purchased him privately for $15,000 after he fetched just $14,000 at Keeneland’s September 2000 yearling sale.
Feliciano said Mo Money Mo Honey could make his stakes debut in the seven-furlong City of Laurel for 3-year-olds Nov. 26 at Laurel.
“We haven’t even stretched him out yet. His family is all long. His mom is long, Uncle Mo is long, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to with him. I think the City of Laurel Thanksgiving Day, I might go there,” he said. “I might fit one [race] in between there. We have to look. I’ve looked at the 3-year-old races and there’s not many in that time frame, so I might just wait and work him up to that race.”
Notes: Jockey Horacio Karamanos registered a hat trick Friday with Aesthetically ($10.80) in Race 5, Mo Money Mo Honey ($4) in Race 6 and Passion Play ($24) in Race 8. He now leads apprentice Jeiron Barbosa, 8-7, in the fall meet standings … Jevian Toledo swept the early double Friday aboard Expect Ours ($8) in Race 1 and Ghost Stalker ($9) in Race 2 … There will be a carryover of $3,027.10 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 6-11) for Saturday’s 11-race program. Tickets with five of six winners Friday were each worth $126.02.