Normandy Invasion Sets Track Record in Return
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The highly regarded Normandy Invasion, fourth in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), returned from a 10-month layoff Saturday to win the fourth race, an allowance optional claiming event for Non-Winners other than.
The now 4-year-old son of Tapit, though stakes-placed, had only a maiden win to his credit coming into the race. Bet down to 2-5, he ran like an over-classed favorite should, rolling home 7 ¾ lengths the victor, ahead of Chee and Morgan’s Guerrilla.
The margin of victory was impressive, but the final time was even more so. Normandy Invasion covered the mile distance in 1:33.13, a new track record. The previous mark of 1:33.71 was set by Commentator in 2008. “I had a beautiful trip,” jockey Javier Castellano said. “I had so much horse. When the horses in front of me stopped, I had to go completely around the horses. I asked him a little bit, and he took off.”
Normandy Invasion missed the entire second half of 2013 due to a nagging foot injury that progressed to an abscess. Instead of pushing the horse to make the major mid-summer races like the Jim Dandy (G3) and Travers (G1), owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms, Inc., along with trainer Chad Brown, decided to shut the horse down for the year and focus on preparing for a 4-year-old campaign.
“It was a long wait, but it was worth it,” Porter said. “We thought giving him the year off after the injury was the right thing to do. It’s hard to give them that much time off, but it turned out better than we thought it could. You can see how much weight he put on. We couldn’t ask for anything better than what we got today.” Brown was equally happy to see his colt have a successful return. Though confident in how Normandy Invasion was training, he also admitted that, coming off a long layoff, one can never be certain of how a horse will run. “When they train as well as this horse and they physically look that good – he’s never looked better in my opinion – you’re quietly confident they’ll go out there in the afternoon and do it,” he said. “That’s the final piece of the puzzle. They have to go out there and do it. As a trainer, I don’t care who you are, I don’t think you’re ever certain they’re going to do it until they cross the line and do it. We were confident he was sound and training better than ever. We were confident to put Javier right back on this horse. They get along well, and hopefully this is a start to a great year for this horse.”
While a specific race has not been selected for Normandy Invasion’s next start, a two-turn race is in the plans.
“This one-turn mile was a good starting point,” Brown said. “We’re looking to run the horse in those two-turn dirt handicap races, really anywhere.”
With such a visually impressive comeback, expectations will be high, though Porter is trying to keep his emotions in check for now.
“I think he’s one of the best colts I’ve had,” Porter said. “I’ve had some good ones. We’ve got a ways to go before we see how to compare him – it’s too early to compare him. Right now, I’d say the potential, he’s right up there near the top.”