Making his second U.S. start, Shadwell Stable's favored Invasor left his six rivals in the dust when he galloped to an easy victory in the $400,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park Saturday.
Jockey Fernando Jara, racing in third while well off the rail, asked the South American hero Invasor to run with three furlongs to go. By the time they reached the head of the stretch, there was little doubt that the Argentina-bred Invasor was on his way to his seventh win eight starts in spite of stumbling a bit at the break. Invasor won by 4 1/4 lengths while the final time for the 1 1/4-mile Suburban was 2:01 1/5.
"I told Fernando not to give up on him, because the last two times he ran, he kind of dropped back and finished well," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "He was always sitting there with a handful of horse and said he never asked him until the eighth-pole. Right now, we're not going to duck anybody, so we have to pick our spots. The nice thing is that he wants to run all day."
McLaughlin said Saratoga's $750,000 Whitney (gr. I) at nine furlongs on Aug. 5 would be the next logical spot for Invasor.
Noble Causeway outran Wilko for the early lead, and those two led through fractions of :24 1/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 1/5, hanging in there with Invasor, sweeping up on the outside, but they gradually fell away as the stalking Wild Desert and Edgar Prado ran on for second by one length. Andromeda's Hero had room to challenge the winner along the inside for Cornelio Velasquez but settled for third.
"I asked him a little bit at the three-eighths pole and then he just ran up to the leaders on his own," said Jara, who teamed with McLaughlin to win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Jazil three weeks ago. "I was very confident in this horse. Kiaran has done such a great job with him. It's been a great month winning the Belmont and now the Suburban."
The 4-year-old Invasor broke into the American racing scene with a surprisingly powerful 1 1/4-length win in the Pimlico Special (gr. I) at odds of 6-1 on May 15. He was even more impressive Saturday when he carried top weight of 118 pounds to victory at odds of 6-5.
By Candy Stripes, Invasor's only loss came in his first start for McLaughlin, a fourth-place finish behind Discreet Cat in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) March 25 prior to transferring to the U.S. He won three grade I races in Uruguay at 3, including the Uruguay Derby. He earned $240,000 Saturday, bringing his career total to $754,070.
"He was most impressive," McLaughlin said of Invasor's Suburban performance. "I was impressed last time (in the Special) and surprised, but today I was even more impressed. He's the real deal. I don't know how I got him beat, but maybe I should say we don't want to see Discreet Cat anywhere."
Invasor paid $4.50, $3.10, and $2.50. Wild Desert, last year's Queen's Plate winner, returned $4.80 and $3.40. Andromeda's Hero, one of two in the field trained by Nick Zito, was $5.40 to show. The other Zito entrant, Noble Causeway, finished fourth.
They were followed by Tap Day, Rathor and Wilko.
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