Inti might not have become Invasor for Shadwell and Kiaran McLaughlin. But, he did become the horse who changed everything for Cyril Murphy.
Born in Uruguay, the son of Dubai Dust won two of four starts in his homeland before being imported to America for a 2009 campaign. That campaign began for Shadwell and McLaughlin, the team who imported eventual Eclipse Award winner Invasor from Uruguay. Inti hit the big spots, first at Gulfstream Park, then Keeneland, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park and Saratoga before being claimed for $25,000 by Jerry and Dale Romans at Saratoga in 2009. From there, the journey weaved through different trainers, different circuits and Inti wound up in a $7,500 at Presque Isle Downs. That's when that part of the journey ended.
Eight months later, Inti made his hurdle debut for Murphy and Meritage Racing. The former had just started training after a successful riding career based in Maryland with Tom Voss while the latter, a syndicate owned by Brook Smith, was new to steeplechasing.
Inti finished second at Block House in his debut, then finished third at Strawberry Hill. In the fall, he finished fifth at Foxfield before breaking a losing streak - spanning 20 starts and 41 months - at the International Gold Cup meeting in October 2011. Inti won an allowance race at Colonial the following summer and upset the Zeke Ferguson at Colonial in 2013.
"He broke my maiden over hurdles, he won a graded stakes," Murphy said. "When I didn't have any horses, he was the one I had in training. When everything was quiet and we weren't sure what we were doing, he was there, week in and week out. He brought a new owner into the sport and he kept my head above water."
That's the definition of the horse who changed everything.
"When I had left Tom's, I was riding out at Bruce Fenwick's, just trying to pull a check here, there and everywhere, then he came along," Murphy said. "He kept our name in the program, he kept us out there to be seen that we were still around, that we hadn't disappeared."
Inti certainly didn't disappear June 8, 2013, when he scampered through soft ground to stamp a 23-1 upset on the Ferguson. Favorite Decoy Daddy (who Murphy would later train) tired to finish seventh, second choice Mr. Hot Stuff faded to fourth. Inti and Roddy Mackenzie scored by 3 ¼ lengths, leading a 50-cent trifecta that returned $6,872.10.
"Even though we were 23-1 going down there, I felt like if we beat Mr. Hot Stuff we would win the race. Rain has been my biggest friend, Mr. Hot Stuff couldn't get his heels out of it, we galloped away and won by 3 lengths," Murphy said. "As a trainer, you're responsible for everything, it's your responsibility, your call, win, lose or draw. You sent him out to do his job."
Inti did his job for Murphy, bridging a tenuous gap between a steady paycheck at Voss' and the private training job for the sport's biggest owner, Irv Naylor. Murphy won 12 races this spring and leads all trainers in earnings through June.
Inti is still part of the team, a fourth member, along with Murphy's wife, Becky and daughter, Madeline.
"We have him, we rent a little barn about 15 minutes from Irv's barn. Becky rides him, he's turned out with some ponies, he's done a couple of hunter paces," Murphy said. "He's only 11 years old. He goes out three or four days a week with Becky, just trail riding, going out with Madeline and her pony."