Submitted by John Piesen on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Preakness Stakes: Normandy Invasion back under consideration
ELMONT, N.Y. – After initially saying he didn’t plan to run Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Normandy Invasion back in the Preakness, trainer Chad Brown on Monday reserved the right to change his mind.
“I kind of retreated to not knowing what I’m going to do,” Brown said Monday at his Belmont Park barn. “I want to see how my horse trains this week. I’m not sure he is a Belmont [Stakes] horse. It’s not totally out of the realm that I run in the Preakness then give him a break.”
Brown has said that a major summer goal for Normandy Invasion is the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 27.
Given the hot early pace of the Derby, Normandy Invasion, ridden by Javier Castellano, made an earlier-than-anticipated move to the lead, taking over from pacesetting Palace Malice outside the quarter pole. He maintained the lead until inside the eighth pole when Orb went past him. Normandy Invasion flattened out a little bit late and finished fourth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths.
Brown was happy that Castellano gave his horse a clean trip and was able to save ground around the first turn. Brown understood when Castellano took Normandy Invasion outside down the backstretch to follow Verrazano, who was considered one of the contenders and who was stalking the quick pace.
Around the far turn, Normandy Invasion made a three-wide sweep and collared Palace Malice before the quarter pole. Brown said the early move Castellano made often times works out on wet tracks.
“On a sloppy track and you make a move like that and get the jump, a lot of times it works out and you get home,” Brown said. “A lot of horses behind you are tired from chasing a big pace and they’re getting hit with a lot of the track the whole race. You don’t see a lot of passing going on when the track is deteriorating to that point.
“So, really, at the top of the lane he moved into a quick pace, but I did think I still had a good shot to win the race coming off the final turn,” Brown added. “The mile and a quarter is a different animal. There’s running on a sloppy track and making a move and running on a sloppy track at a mile and a quarter – it’s a long way to go. My horse ran well and got a clean trip, and that’s what I was looking for.”
Brown said that Normandy Invasion was due in New York from Kentucky on Monday and that he would probably go back to the track on Wednesday. Brown said he wanted to evaluate Normandy Invasion’s energy level before making a decision on the Preakness.
“He’s always been a light horse, everyone knows it, but he can run,” Brown said. “His energy level was terrific at Churchill, at times he was a little aggressive, but I really wasn’t worried about it. That’s who he is, and as you can see he ran his ‘A’ race. I want to see more of that.”
Normandy Invasion, a son of Tapit owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, won a maiden race by 9 1/4 lengths on Nov. 2 at Aqueduct and did come back in 22 days to run a strong second – beaten a nose by Overanalyze – in the Grade 2 Remsen, earning what remains his career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99.