Streaking sophomore turf sprinter Big Invasion racked up his fifth win in a row, and fourth straight stakes, in Sunday’s $175,000 Quick Call (G3) at Saratoga. The 0.85-1 favorite was capping a fine opening weekend for connections. Reeves Thoroughbred Racing also celebrated an upset win in Friday’s Forbidden Apple (G3) by City Man, who is likewise trained by Christophe Clement and piloted by meet-leading rider Joel Rosario.
Big Invasion handed Rosario his third win on the card, and seventh so far at the Spa. Under confident handling, the Declaration of War colt settled in fifth through a blazing opening quarter. The 19-1 Surprise Boss, prompted by fellow longshot Run Curtis Run, ripped in :21.41 on the firm Mellon course. Nobals got no nearer than third, a position he couldn’t hold when Big Invasion muscled through on the turn.
As Run Curtis Run was about to overtake Surprise Boss entering the stretch in a torrid :43.83, Big Invasion ambled up and easily pulled clear. The favorite widened his margin to 2 3/4 lengths, in hand, while finishing 5 1/2 furlongs in a swift 1:00.80 – a new stakes record, and just off the course mark of 1:00.21 set by Carotari in 2019.
Run Curtis Run wore down Surprise Boss by a half-length for second, with Sky and Sand another neck astern in fourth. Asymmetric, the 2.55-1 second choice, didn’t find as much as expected from off the pace in fifth.
Nobals faded to last of the six. His Larry Rivelli stablemate One Timer scratched in favor of Sunday’s My Frenchman S. at Monmouth, where he was runner-up as the 1.30-1 favorite. Dance Code, like Surprise Boss from the barn of soon-to-be-suspended Juan Vazquez, was a vet scratch. Main-track-only entrants Senbei and Hagler stayed in the barn.
Big Invasion advanced his scorecard to 6-5-1-0, $361,545. Unbeatable since a debut second at Gulfstream Park, the bay rolled by 4 1/4 lengths in a Feb. 19 maiden at the same course, followed by the March 26 Texas Glitter S. Big Invasion continued his swath of conquest at Churchill Downs in the May 4 William Walker S. and at Belmont Park in the May 29 Paradise Creek, where he proved effective at seven furlongs.
Shortening up for the Quick Call was no problem for the talented colt who’s still progressing, according to both trainer and jockey.
“He broke very well,” Rosario said, “and it looked like it was a little speed in front, and we set up nice in behind them. I kind of made a move into the turn and continued his move. He did great. Turning for home, I was just a passenger on the best horse in the race.
“Going forward, his races look like they’re getting better and better. That’s exciting and I’m thankful to the owners and Christophe for the opportunity.
“He’s a nice horse and he ran really fast. Turning for home, it was only his race. He enjoyed what he was doing out there and I’m glad just to be a part of it.”
Clement is looking forward to what the future may hold.
“He’s a very good horse and he keeps winning. That’s what good horses do; they win more often than the lesser ones. He was impressive last time and impressive the time before that. Today, I told Joel to be comfortable with whatever he wanted to do. We know he can rate now. He’s still a bit immature. He was perfect, but he got a little bit rank in the turn. But he’s so good, he just goes away from them in the stretch. He’s very exciting.
“He’s better than just the set-up. He can do different things. If there’s no pace, he can go to the lead. He showed the other day (in the Paradise Creek) he could go seven-eighths at Belmont. He’s becoming very versatile. He’s becoming more mature and a very serious horse.
“If I keep him sound, he should be even better from three to four because he’s still a touch immature. You can see it in the way he runs. But he’s very fast and if you can just control that speed, he’s a major horse.”
The next potential target at Saratoga is the Aug. 14 Mahony S., but Clement might give him more time and point to the Sept. 10 Franklin-Simpson (G2) at Kentucky Downs.
“The same race comes back here more or less in a month’s time and he could do that, or we could save him for Kentucky Downs. But no decision as of now; we’ll just enjoy it.”
Big Invasion’s pedigree reinforces the idea that he’s just getting started. Bred by John O’Meara in Kentucky, the $72,000 Keeneland September yearling is out of Curls in Place, a daughter of Hall of Famer Curlin and stakes-winning older mare Pola. This is the family of Grade 2 vixen Andujar, ancestress of current Ashland (G1) romper and Belmont (G1) runner-up Nest as well as last year’s Santa Anita H. (G1) star Idol.