Last year presented the very first crop to race from the seemingly unstoppable, globe-trotting sensation Invasor [ARG], who deflected top fields whether he was in Dubai or California or just about anywhere else. Unfortunately, we have barely seen anything worthwhile come from this champion— his biggest claim to fame was Five Sixteen, a one-time winner who raced 5th in the Belmont and was runner-up to Street Life in the Curlin Stakes. Feeling a bit downtrodden at this poor note, there is some good news on the horizon for fans of the Argentinian beast in recent maiden winner Saint Arthur.
A New York-bred, the odds of Saint Arthur succeeding are already stacked against him as a son of Invasor [ARG], but it’s his game mindset that makes him a fitting underdog. He chased a doozy of a pace in his debut race at Saratoga to finish 3rd, missing the win by just a length. From there he shipped to Finger Lakes to make his stakes debut in the full Aspirant Stakes barely two weeks later, breaking slow to make the lead at the half and tired late after making up ground early. Three weeks later, he was entered in another well-filled Finger Lakes stake for the 6-furlong New York Breeders’ Futurity, getting glued to the inside to finish 3rd beaten a smidgen for the place and only 1 1/4 lengths for the win.
Returning to upper-crust Belmont at 25-1 odds, he changed tactics slightly by gunning for the lead right away in the 7-furlong Bertram Bongard Stakes— an important New York-bred prep won by Funny Cide in the past— but was caught in the stretch by heavy favorite Weekend Hideaway and finished strong to place in the race off by 2. After drilling the fastest of 55 works at the 4-furlong distance at Belmont, he at long last won an Aqueduct MSW on Saturday, wiring the field while out-dueling Pleasure Principle the whole way, the two keeping some 8-9 lengths between them and the rest of the field.
Further down south, another interesting Invasor is making progress towards his first win. Raced three times at three very different tracks (Turfway, Keeneland on grass, and Calder’s dirt course), Succesful Brothers has an annoying misspelled name, but sports a very unusual pedigree and flight path. His dam is Contagious [GB], an unsuccessful turf racer by Polar Falcon, a Nureyev son who was a graded stakes winner in Europe. Contagious has produced a winner in her first foal One Thousand is a half to group III winner Headstrong [IRE]. Any further research about Contagious’s dam Rash [GB] turns up empty.
Last out at Calder, he closed from the rear of the 7-furlong test after a poor start and went wide to be 2nd. The crowd favored him well enough to make him the post-time favorite, but he could not reach bomber Narvarez, who paid an enormous $87.20 for a $2 win bet. Trained by juvie pro Wesley Ward, this chestnut colt’s last race was a mild move to be 5th in a 9-furlong turf maiden race and he cut his teeth on Turfway’s all-weather over a mile to be 2nd. He’s just got to be close to a win by now…
Whether or not these two can accomplish enough improvement in time to earn some essential Derby points is the biggest question of all, with Saint Arthur being a speedster and Succesful Brothers sitting back. Invasor [ARG] has gotten an extremely slow start despite his list of impressive accolades… while he liked to sit off the pace a while in his races, can he catch up off the track?