February 20, 2024

Veteran Pure Sensation looks to outrun younger foes in Jaipur; Decorated Invader, Sweet Melania top 3-year-old stakes

Pure Sensation #11 with Paco Lopez riding won the $100,000 Turf Monster (Grade III) at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on September 2, 2019. Photo By Barbara Weidl /EQUI-PHOTO

Owner-breeder Patricia Generazio and trainer Christophe Clement have won the $250,000 Jaipur (G1) three of the past four years, but Pure Sensation was responsible for only one of those wins, in 2016.

In the absence of stablemate Disco Partner, who won in 2017 and 2018, the nine-year-old Pure Sensation will attempt to become the third dual winner of the 6-furlong grass sprint at Belmont Park, a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in November.

Pure Sensation last competed in the Jaipur two years, finishing third to Disco Partner by a length. In recent years, the gray flash has earned the bulk of his cash at Parx outside Philadelphia, where’s he won the Turf Monster (G3) four times and the Parx Dash (G3) three times. The Jaipur marks Pure Sensation’s first start since running fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

“We know he’s a fast horse and we’re excited to see how he runs,” said Clement. “We know he loves Parx but they’re not racing yet, so there’s really no choice as to where to bring him back.”

Clement will also saddle multiple stakes winner White Flag, who’s raced only twice in the last 12 months but is 4-for-7 over the Belmont turf courses.

Last fall’s Woodford (G2) winner Stubbins rallied for fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint two back and was narrowly beaten in last month’s Daytona (G3) at Santa Anita, with Texas Wedge not far behind.

The Neil Drysdale-trained mare Oleksandra fits well in this spot off a recent closing second in the 5 1/2-furlong Monrovia (G2) at Santa Anita. She beat male allowance rivals over this course and distance last summer.

Grade 2 veteran Kanthaka returns to the track following a 13-month spell on the sidelines and debuts for Graham Motion, while the once-promising Hidden Scroll lines up after dumping jockey John Velazquez at the start of a June 3 allowance in what was his turf debut.


Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. guides Decorated Invader to victory in Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine on Sunday, September 15, 2019 (c) WEG/Michael Burns Photography

With the Belmont Derby (G1) and Belmont Oaks (G1) postponed this year to a later date, Saturday’s $150,000 Pennine Ridge (G2) and $150,000 Wonder Again serve as the top grass stakes for 3-year-olds during the Belmont spring meet.

Decorated Invader, who captured the Summer (G1) at Woodbine last season before a tough-luck fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), is the likely heavy favorite in the one-mile Pennine Ridge. The Clement trainee made up a 15-length deficit after hitting the gate at the start of the Mar. 28 Cutler Bay S. at Gulfstream to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths.

“Decorated Invader is doing great. He’s had two very nice breezes at Belmont with Joel [Rosario] aboard and he couldn’t be doing better,” Clement said. “I think he’s a top class horse and the distance should be perfect for him.”

Helping to provide the honest pace Decorated Invader will need are recent English Channel S. runner-up Proven Strategies and Vanzzy, a multiple stakes winner over synthetic at Woodbine and Turfway.

The Wonder Again, also at a mile, marks the season debut of Sweet Melania, who captured last fall’s Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland before running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

“She ran great at Keeneland and I thought she ran very well at the Breeders’ Cup,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “In retrospect, I wish we’d had a little more time in between such a monster effort at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she still had a great performance that day.

“She’s done well. She’s grown and filled out a little bit. She’s an easy filly to train and it seems like she’s maintained her form from last fall.”

Selflessly was also last seen in that Breeders’ Cup event, finishing fifth, which followed a tally in Miss Grillo (G2) for Chad Brown.

A much deeper if smaller cast than the Pennine Ridge, the Wonder Again also includes the stakes winners Antoinette, Speaktomeofsummer, and Highland Glory.