(from Saratoga notes)
Invasor, winner of Saturday's Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga in a thrilling stretch drive over Sun King, is likely to make his next start in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) on Sept. 2.
Neal McLaughlin, the assistant trainer to his older brother, Kiaran, reported that Shadwell Stable's star, unbeaten in three U.S. starts (all grade I), came out of his victory by a nose in excellent order.
He said that the Woodward, to be run for the first time on Saratoga's stakes schedule, could be the final start for the 4-year-old Argentine-bred colt before the ultimate target, the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. 1) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
"He came out great. He looks fantastic this morning," McLaughlin said. "He ate up well. The Woodward is the next thing we are looking at. With the Breeder's Cup being the main goal, it's just a matter of how we get there. We have run horses in big races before off a layoff, so we would not be opposed to running in the Woodward and then heading straight to the Classic."
Invasor had turned back in distance for Saturday's nine-furlong race after winning Belmont's Suburban (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles in his prior start July 1 by 4 1/2 lengths. McLaughlin noted that the BC Classic is at the preferred 10 furlongs.
"The cutback was definitely a concern going in (to the Whitney)," McLaughlin said. "We would have much preferred it to be a mile and a quarter. He had a tough trip and really fought hard yesterday. I thought Johnny (Flower Alley's rider Johnny Velazquez) was going to pin us in, but he just didn't have the horse yesterday. Invasor is a fun horse to train, and I don't think we have seen his best yet."
Trainer Nick Zito was still lamenting Sun King's tough luck. On Memorial Day, Tracy Farmer's valiant colt rallied late in the Metropolitan Mile (gr. I) at Belmont but could not get by the horse-for-course and TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) champ Silver Train. Saturday, Sun King came charging home but fell just short to Invasor in the Whitney.
"It's like a win, but it's not," said Zito, who won the 2005 Whitney with Commentator. "It would have been great to win it two years in a row. I thought it was a great race."
Zito said that Sun King can't seem to catch a break.
"Silver Train loves Belmont, and I wish they would have left Invasor in Dubai or Uruguay," he joked. "That's racing and that's what makes the game great. We're very happy to be part of this. Put it this way: We're in the playoffs all the time, we've just got to win the big game. We're thankful to have horses that have responded."
Zito also ran Wanderin Boy in the Whitney, who chased early and tired to sixth.
Both Sun King and Wanderin Boy came out of the Whitney in good order, and there are no immediate plans for either, according to Zito.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Flower Alley, the Whitney favorite who faded to seventh, obviously needed the race.
"I was concerned that with only one race under his belt this year he might not be in peak form," Pletcher said. "I would have liked to see him finish up a little better than he did. I know he's a lot better than that, so we'll just regroup and point for the Woodward."
Pletcher said he was pleased by the third-place effort turned in by West Virginia. Both horses came out of the Whitney well, he said.