02/20/2014 3:44PM

Gulfstream Park: Finally D-Day for Normandy Invasion

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Barbara D. Livingston
Normandy Invasion, training Sunday at Palm Meadows under Marino Garcia, makes his first start since finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Sometimes the hardest part about owning and training racehorses is learning how to wait. Such has been the case for trainer Chad Brown and owner Rick Porter, who have had to wait nearly 10 months to finally get Normandy Invasion back to the races again.

Unraced since a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Normandy Invasion will launch his comeback here Saturday going a mile in a first-level optional-claiming race that serves as one of the highlights on the undercard for the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

[Fountain of Youth: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Normandy Invasion turned in a huge effort in defeat in the Derby, making a big middle move that put him on the lead through midstretch before he faded to finish 3 1/2 lengths behind Orb. In his previous start, Normandy Invasion ran second behind the odds-on Verrazano in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

Normandy Invasion skipped the final two Triple Crown races to point for the Travers last summer at Saratoga before a foot abscess ended those plans. Shortly thereafter, Brown and Porter decided to put Normandy Invasion away for the remainder of the season and point for a 2014 campaign.

“Losing him for the second half of last season was tough, especially having to pass the Travers, which is a race I wanted to win very badly,” said Brown. “But I try to do the right thing and give my horses time when they need it. He not only had the foot abscess but several other minor things going on. The Derby was hard on him – he lost some weight and he just wasn’t moving right.”

Normandy Invasion, a son of Tapit, has been training on a regular basis at Palm Meadows since the first of the year, and Brown is confident he’s ready to run a big race on Saturday. Javier Castellano will be aboard.

[DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from DRF writers and handicappers this Saturday]

“He’s come back really well, looks great, has been working great, and this is a good spot for a comeback,” said Brown. “Unfortunately he drew the inside, but Javier should be able to work his way out of there. Right now we’re just focused on this race. We’ll see how he runs and, more important, see how he comes out of it before looking ahead to anything else.”