Making his first start in North America, Shadwell Stable's Invasor pulled off a mild upset over favorite Wanderin Boy in the $500,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) May 19 before 24,429 at Old Hilltop.
Invasor got the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.40.
Sitting just off Wanderin Boy for the majority of the race under Ramon Dominquez, Invasor took back on the turn and then cut to the inside in the lane to overtake Wanderin Boy past the eighth pole. He won by 1 1/4 lengths. West Virginia, who was brushed by the winner in mid-stretch as Invasor was making his cut to the inside, was 3 3/4 lengths back in third, followed by Harlington and We Can Seek in the five-horse field.
"I was pretty impressed not only because he won the race, but the way he did it. To come off the bridle (On the far turn) and to be able to regroup and win the race shows signs of a lot of ability and quality," said Dominguez.
The 6-1 shot was saddled by Kiaran McLaughlin, who will send out Like Now in tomorrow's Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
"That was a great ride by Dominguez. He's my new favorite rider," McLaughlin said. "At the eighth pole, I didn't think were going to get there."
Invasor, an Argentine-bred, is a son of Candy Stripes, out of the Interprete mare Quendom. He was bred by Haras Clausan. The bay colt was unbeaten in five starts in Uruguay, including three group I victories in succession, before Shadwell purchased him in late December and shipped him to the United Arab Emirates. On March 25, he was fourth against 3-year-olds in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) behind Discreet Cat. Shipping to the Northern Hemisphere, he became a 4-year-old and was making his first start against older horses.
In reality, being bred on Southern Hemisphere time, he is 3 ½ years old, according to McLaughlin.
"He did surprise me a bit," McLaughlin said. "We liked him, but when you're up against these type horses, you don't know where you stand. So I'm pleasantly surprised. When he ducked to the inside, that's when he started running."
Wanderin Boy went to the lead at the break and was allowed to set moderate early splits of :24.07 and :47.48. Down the backstretch, Wanderin Boy completed the six furlongs in 1:10.88. Ridden by Javier Castellano, Wanderin Boy was pressed on the lead on the turn and opened up a three-length advantage. In the stretch, however, Invasor cut to the rail and spurted through to the wire.
"This is a very tough beat," said Nick Zito, trainer of Wanderin Boy. "This is one of the toughest losses I've ever lost as a trainer. He didn't do anything wrong. The jock rode him perfect. He just got beat."
Noberto Arroyo Jr., aboard West Virginia, lodged an objection against Dominguez that was not allowed. In the previous race at Pimlico, the Woodford Reserve Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II), Arroyo Jr. was aboard Smart N Pretty, who was taken down for the win behind Dominquez and Regal Engagement.
"I can't believe they took the last one down (Smart N Pretty) and didn't take this one (Invasor) down," Arroyo said. "As I came out of the turn, he came into my path. I had to snatch my horse up."
"He's a very nice horse," McLaughlin said of Invasor. "He just won a grade I. For me, it's a huge win because I've been with Shadwell a long time, and they've been one of my biggest supporters, and it's good to deliver a grade I win for them."
Invasor paid $15.40, $4.60, and $3.20. Wanderin Boy returned $2.60 and $2.10 and West Virginia paid $3.20 to show.