A tour de force in a turf debut came Saturday at Belmont Park from Northern Invader, who drew off in the stretch to win by 8 lengths. Gal in a Rush also scored on the grass at Belmont earlier in the afternoon as West Point looks to build momentum leading to the Saratoga meet that begins on July 13.
Northern Invader, a 3-year-old chestnut colt with a beautiful white face and nose, switched surfaces on a hunch from trainer Cherie DeVaux after he ran very well on the dirt in his first two starts, finishing second on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs and again a month later at the Louisville track.
Cherie DeVaux said, “He’s exciting for sure. The first two races we were trying to see if we should pursue going on the dirt. We always had a feeling he was a turf horse, but he had been training so well on the dirt. There’s always some apprehension. The two races he ran on the dirt were really solid and the speed figures came back quite fast, so you’re just hoping you make the right decision with the surface change.”
Northern Invader shipped up to Saratoga and will point for the $500,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2T) run at a mile on the turf on Friday, August 4 at the Spa.
Northern Invader, a son of first-crop sire Collected, was bred in Ontario and acquired as a 2-year-old at the OBS March sale in 2022. He earned a 10 on the Ragozin Sheets to go along with the 94 Beyer.
Gal in a Rush delivered as the favorite in an “a other than” allowance for fillies and mares going seven furlongs on the grass. She made amends after finishing second in both her previous starts this year, including a heartbreaker by a nose on April 16.
Jockey Jose Ortiz provided a perfect ride in a short field Saturday.
Christophe Clement trains Gal in a Rush, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly who was also acquired at the OBS March sale back in 2021.
Northern Invader replay:
Gal in a Rush replay:
Interview with West Point’s Tom Bellhouse in the winner’s circle: