Christophe Clement secured his 2,000th win in North America when Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo won a grassy optional-claiming event on Friday at Gulfstream Park, and the veteran conditioner didn’t rest on his laurels winning with 3-of-7 starters on Saturday including a successful seasonal bow for Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader.
Miguel Clement, assistant trainer to his father, said Gufo and Decorated Invader, both sons of Declaration of War, impressed with wins in their seasonal debuts.
“They are the type of horses you want to point towards the Turf Triple,” said Clement, a graduate of Duke University and the Darley Flying Start program, with regard to NYRA’s Turf Triple Series.
The Turf Triple for males begins with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational going 1 ¼ miles which is slated for July 11. The series continues with the Saratoga Derby at 1 3/16-miles and the 12-furlong Jockey Club Derby during the Belmont fall meet.
West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook, and Cheryl Manning’s Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader rallied wide down the lane under Joel Rosario to capture the $100,000 Cutler Bay at Gulfstream Park. The 1 ¼-length victory garnered an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
“It was very impressive and I believe he confirmed our belief that he’s one of the best 3-year-olds in the country on the grass. He validated that with a very good performance,” said Clement. “He overcame an outside post position and a wide trip to win on a speed-favoring course.”
A $200,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Decorated Invader graduated impressively at second asking in August at Saratoga Race Course. The Declaration of War bay then traveled north to Woodbine where he won the Grade 1 Summer on a yielding turf ahead of a wide-trip to finish fourth with a strong late charge in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Park in November.
Clement said he is confident that Decorated Invader can stretch out in distance going forward and noted the efforts of Tonalist, also trained by his father, who won the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in 2015 and the Grade 1 Belmont at 1 ½-miles in 2014.
“Good horses can overcome distance and many other factors. Look at Tonalist, he won Grade 1s from a mile to a mile and a half,” said Clement. “Decorated Invader is already a Grade 1 winner and I think he was unlucky not to win the Breeders’ Cup last year. I think he is in that league.
“He’s very imposing physically and his mental aspect is second-to-none. He’s very talented,” added Clement. “He will have every chance but he has to prove it. He’s working along the same path.”
By Declaration of War and out of the Petionville mare Floy, the 3-year-old Gufo is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Hogy. Gufo earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure for his half-length score.
“He’s very good too in his own right,” said Clement. “To be honest, he might be one of Decorated Invader’s biggest dangers this three-year-old season.”
The Clement stable won 13 races with 2-year-olds on the NYRA circuit in 2019, and Clement said both Decorated Invader and Gufo showed great potential on arrival last season.
“Back in May at Saratoga, we were working Gufo and Decorated Invader together and they had stamped themselves as the best 2-year-old colts in our crop,” said Clement. “They were both very advanced and showed lots of talent from day one. They’ve been work partners the last few weeks and both came back and made their seasonal debut a winning one.”
Clement said he initially planned on bringing Decorated Invader back in the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds slated for May 30 at Belmont Park.
“The Pennine Ridge was our plan, but we’ll have to see what happens with the stakes schedule in New York,” said Clement.
Traipsing started a successful Saturday for Clement with a smart score at 19-1 in Saturday’s Gulfstream opener off the layoff. Following Decorated Invader’s score, Clement saddled She’s My Type (3rd) and Seducer (9th) in the Sanibel Island. Focus Group landed seventh in the Grade 2 Pan American in his first start for new connections.
Clement said the well-bred She’s My Type, by Dunkerque out of the Kendor mare Theoricienne, was in position to win.
“She ran well, but we were a touch disappointed she didn’t get the job done. At the three-eighths, I thought she was going to win,” said Clement.
Stone Farm’s Traipsing, a 4-year-old daughter of Stroll, earned an 82 Beyer for her rallying half-length score under Rosario in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance. The talented filly was fourth in her August 2018 debut at Saratoga and was making her first start since an impressive 8 ½-length maiden win at Presque Isle Downs on September 17, 2018.
“She was a huge price. In her debut she ran fourth and though she was beaten eight lengths, the winner, Newspaperofrecord, won by 6 ¾-lengths that day and went on to win at the Breeders’ Cup,” said Clement. “We sent her to Presque Isle and she won by eight lengths on the bridle. We couldn’t find a race for her in New York, and we were ambitious to go to Presque Isle to get a win under her belt. She had soundness issues and missed her three-year-old campaign, but she came back in a big way.”
Clement also sent out Hoolie Racing Stable’s Malibeauty for an impressive debut in a six-furlong maiden sprint. A $235,000 purchase at the 2019 March OBS Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, the 3-year-old Malibu Moon filly won comfortably while never being asked by jockey Samy Camacho.
“Samy was very confident in the filly and she was different class than the field. It was a very educational win for her,” said Clement. “She split horses, had plenty of kickback, and won on the bridle. You would think she will improve leaps and bounds from that performance.”
The red-hot Clement barn has won 15 races dating back to February 1.
“With so much uncertainty, we’re having a lot of runners,” said Clement. “Who knows what will take place in the coming weeks. It might be the last chance to run for a while so we’re trying to make the most of it now. They’re all running well at the moment.”
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