Those extra three-sixteenths of a mile Decorated Invader tackled in his last race apparently did what few other horses could do to the standout 3-year-old — slow down the son of noted sire Declaration of War.

Decorated Invader-Hill Prince
Decorated Invader owns four stakes victories on four different tracks. He leads the field in the Grade 2 Hill Prince Sunday at Belmont Park. (Image: West Point Thoroughbreds)

This explains why Decorated Invader cuts back to a mile for Sunday’s Grade 2 Hill Prince at Belmont Park, which bodes well for him – and less so for his counterparts.

Those counterparts get Decorated Invader over a mile distance that he’s just about owned. Decorated Invader is 3-for-4 at a mile, with his only defeat coming at last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when a rough trip neutralized the closer’s finishing kick.

The Closer the Better for this Closer

The same thing happened in Decorated Invader’s last race, the Saratoga Derby, two months ago. The race’s slow pace dismissed 4/5 favorite Decorated Invader’s finishing flourish. He went three-wide at the top of the stretch in an effort to find space. Weaving between horses, Decorated Invader got caught at the sixteenth pole, yet finished a close fifth, three-quarters of a length behind winner Domestic Spending.

“He didn’t run great going a mile and three-sixteenths, but he only got beat three-quarters of a length,” said Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, which owns Decorated Invader. “We aren’t necessarily thinking about going past 1 1/8 miles because it’s not in front of us at the moment … The good thing with these types of horses is that you have good comparables. You can see the good moves and the ones that didn’t work.”

Decorated Invader made plenty of things work this season. The Saratoga Derby marked his only loss of the season, snapping a three-race winning streak over three different tracks. Decorated Invader won the Cutler Bay on March 28 on the Florida Derby undercard. He captured the June 20th Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park, and the Racing Hall of Fame on July 18 at Saratoga.

Decorated Invader Takes Advantage of Time Off

That was Decorated Invader’s third race in eight weeks. Now, he not only cuts back to that mile comfort zone, but comes back on eight weeks rest.

“He’s getting a bit of a breather here,” Finley said. “He’s been at it once a month pretty much since the end of March, when he made his 3-year-old debut and (trainer) Christophe (Clement) and his staff have done a great job with the horse.”

Decorated Invader provides Clement a great opportunity for his fourth Hill Prince title. Being an even-numbered year bodes well for Clement, who earlier won the race with Have At It (2018), Summer Front (2012), and Gio Ponti (2008).

Three Graded Stakes Wins More than His Competitors

If that’s not enough, Decorated Invader is the only Hill Prince contender with a graded stakes victory – three of them, in fact. He also leads the field with his $473,035 in career earnings coming via five victories and a runner up in eight races.

Not even an expected soft turf, the byproduct of Friday’s rains, should slow Decorated Invader down. He won the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine in Canada as a juvenile last year on spongy turf.