Saratoga Derby Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

Saratoga Derby 2020

If you're playing only to win, go with my top value pick, Colonel Liam (6/1)

Post Position and Odds – Saratoga Derby

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Saratoga Derby!

PPHorseOddsJockeyTrainer
1BAMA BREEZE15/1
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M FrancoG Arnold
2DECORATED INVADER8/5
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J RosarioC Clement
3NO WORD12/1
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J OrtizT Pletcher
4DOMESTIC SPENDING5/1
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I Ortiz Jr.C Brown
5GUFO4/1
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J VelazquezC Clement
6COLONEL LIAM6/1
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J CastellanoT Pletcher
7FIELD PASS5/1
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T GaffalioneM Maker
8GET SMOKIN12/1
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L SaezT Bush

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Already graded stakes win over the Saratoga turf course this summer, Decorated Invader will put his undefeated 2020 record on the line when he faces seven others in Saturday’s $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational.

Ungraded only because of its newness, the second edition of the Saratoga Derby has attracted an excellent group of 3-year-old turf males ready to challenge the Christophe Clement trained son of Declaration of War. A four-time stakes winner and a Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, Decorated Invader figures to be a solid favorite, but among his top challengers is another from the Clement barn.

Gufo, also a son of Declaration of War, comes into Saturday’s test off consecutive stakes wins, including an impressive rallying win in the Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park last out. The late runner has not lost since a fast-closing third in his career debut last year at Aqueduct.

Of the others, Field Pass is the most accomplished and experienced. Trained by the turf master, Michael Maker, the Maryland-bred gray has won stakes this year, including a graded stakes score at Keeneland last time.

Best Bets for the Saratoga Derby

Here are my plays ($42 in total)

$2 Exacta box – Decorated Invader, Bama Breeze, Colonel Liam and Gufo  = $24

$2 Exacta box – Decorated Invader, Colonel Liam and Gufo = $12

$1 Trifecta key – Colonel Liam with Decorated Invader, Bama Breeze and Gufo = $6

Pick:

Colonel Liam 6/1

How to Watch the Saratoga Derby

Saratoga Derby Race Information
WhatSaratoga Derby
WhereSaratoga
WhenSaturday, August 15 — 5:07 pm Eastern time
How to WatchFox Sports 1
Purse$500,000

Race Analysis

Decorated Invader

Comes into the Saratoga Derby as the top 3-year-old turf horse in the nation after three convincing stakes win to begin the year. In fact, with a better trip in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the son of Declaration of War might be riding a six-race winning streak. His late run has been consistent, and he also has two wins over the Saratoga turf course. Last time out, he was a sharp winner of the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) over a pair that will try him again on Saturday. The Saratoga Derby does represent the longest he’s been asked to run, but only a sixteenth of a mile farther than his latest victory. A deserving favorite, he is the horse to beat, but I see this as his toughest test to date. He will be one of my main plays, but at the odds, I think there is a value in taking a shot against.

Gufo

From the same Christophe Clement barn as the favorite, he also enters the Saratoga Derby on a winning streak. Likewise a son of Declaration of War, he has won four in a row and looks to be even farther out of it earlier than his more celebrated stablemate. Though he’s yet to win a race on the big stage of New York, I’ve seen enough out of his wins in Florida and Delaware to believe that he is the real deal, and a serious threat to upset Decorated Invader. He really does lack early speed, but he should come flying late, with the 1 3/16-mile distance only helping.

Field Pass

Like the top two, this one likes to win. Trained by Michael Maker, he has already accounted for a quartet of stakes wins this year, including three on the grass. He has just a little bit more early speed than the two from the Clement barn, but he has proven versatile enough to win from different places early. The distance shouldn’t be a problem either, so it likely comes down to whether he can beat the very best of the division. Certainly, this will be his toughest test yet, but the son of Lemon Drop Kid merits the respect and would be no surprise if he adds another one to his resume.

Domestic Spending

The Chad Brown charge took a lot of money last time when he took on Decorated Invader in only his third career start. While not good enough to win that afternoon, he did show enough to once again merit strong consideration on Saturday. He won his first two races at a flat mile, before the third-place finish in the Hall of Fame, and I’m not so sure the added distance will help him here. I could easily see him developing into a top-notch miler down the road, but still, another horse to fear in a very deep race.

Colonel Liam

After a couple of decent efforts on the dirt to begin his career, the son of Liam’s Map took to the grass in impressive style in winning a Saratoga allowance in his third career start. He won easily for trainer Todd Pletcher that day and did so in sharp time. Now he faces the big boys in a half-million-dollar race. It will be a tough test, but I do really like his turf debut, and I also like the race set up for him here. With only Get Smokin as the confirmed speed, I see him sitting in the catbird seat in second and getting first run on the early leader. A quick pounce on the turn sets him up on the lead turning for home. From there, we will see if he is as good as I think he might be.

Get Smokin

The speed of the speed, he turned in a good effort last time when second behind Decorated Invader in the Hall of Fame. That one came, though, with a pretty easy early lead, and he still could not hold off the favorite. I fully expect him to be on the early lead once again, but this time he will be pressured earlier and likely not fare nearly as well down the stretch.

No Word

Although he has been running strictly in allowance company in three starts this year, they are good enough efforts to consider him as an interesting longshot to fill out the exotics in the Saratoga Derby. In his last, he finished up full of run to get a hard-earned win at Belmont Park. He may not have the talent as some of the others, but he should have no problem with the 9 ½ furlong trip.

Bama Breeze

Another longshot with a chance, he had little luck last time when finishing sixth behind Field Pass in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland. The good news is that he was only beaten 1 ¼-lengths despite the traffic. Another who should have little trouble with the distance, he likely only needs a better trip on Saturday to run a solid race. Will that be good enough to win? Probably not, but at the odds, he is worth a shot in your exotics.

Bet on Colonel Liam (6/1)!

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: brian.zipse@wsn.com