Lightly raced Normandy Invasion readies for Belmont Stakes jewel

[cleeng_content id="928896371" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]Normandy Invasion just looks like an elite athlete.

He’s long and his stride eats the ground in 22-foot bites. He’s tall, and instead of being angular he’s built like a human decathlon practitioner. Lean and muscular. Powerful and now becoming more potent.

The lithe brown colt has raced only five times.

Normandy Invasion finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

Normandy Invasion finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

His fifth race came just four weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby. He’s still a relative school kid whose course work now includes geometry, biology, French II, Greek mythology, Latin II and English literature.

Chad Brown, his trainer, is trying to give him enough information and install in him enough rote learning to have him ready for the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

Javier Castellano, his jockey, is learning to trust him after the Fox Hill Farms, Inc. three-year-old came home with a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Normandy Invasion will have a full five weeks off when he starts in the Belmont. For a thoroughbred with a checkered history of only five races, all the recovery time should be welcomed.

He’s never won a stakes race. His only win came as a two-year-old when he was first in a Maiden Special Weight event at Aqueduct in New York.

Even with just four races in his background, Normandy Invasion had a second place in the Grade II Remsen Stakes last year and another second place this year in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, just a month before the Kentucky Derby.

Fox Hill Farms, Inc. in Lexington owns him.

Ownership already has him stationed at Belmont where trainer Brown resports “he is eating great and gaining weight little by little. Chad Brown does not want to disrupt anything at this point because he is training well. He is not training him at his normal pace but has backed off to give him the rest we wanted.

“We felt he would become a better race horse by giving him a break and shooting at some big races like the Travers later in the summer. He’s a very talented horse and we need to manage him in a way to get the most out of him by winning big races as time goes by. I want him to be around as a four-year-old winning big races.”

Normany Invasion’s father is the snow-white Tapit. And back along the line of geneaology that determined his breeding are such all-time greats as Mr. Prospector, A.P. Indy, Unbridled, Seattle Slew, Fappiano and Nijinsky II.

His mother is Boston Lady and her family tree can claim the bloodlines of Raise A Native, Capote, Native Dancer and also Seattle Slew.

After his waterlogged trip in the Kentucky Derby it was difficult to be sure of anything. Did he benefit from the sloppy surface? Was the 10 furlongs of mud and ooze a good distance for him? He ran an even race and was able to finish fourth, but what would he have done on a fast track while trying to weave through 18 other horses?

His sire,Tapit, has been better at siring distance horses which have done their most accomplished running at distances between nine and 11 furlongs.

Normandy Invasion was bred to be best at the “classic” distances, ranging between one-mile-and-one-eighth and one-mile-and-three-eighths.

A thoroughbred’s first five races don’t always give a true pitcure of what they can do or just where they can excel.

The upcoming Belmont Stakes is not just an endurance test. Few of the Belmont champions have just bided their time until well into the stretch and then run like a banshee to win at the wire.

Jockey Castellano will be wearing the red and white silks with blocks of color front and back. The three wide hoops on the white sleeves will distinguish him from the others in the medium-sized field. His red cap will be bobbing along somewhere away from the lead.

Will anything else besides his colorful silks distinguish him?

With only five lifetime races in his limited background, trying to predict his afternoon might be as hard as chasing after Secretariat 40 years ago in his record-setting Belmont Stakes.

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