2018 Arlington Million international scouting report: Deauville

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 7th, 2018

After a pair of close thirds here in 2016 and 2017, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Deauville launches another raid on the Arlington Million (G1). The five-year-old son of Galileo doesn’t bring the same level of form this time, but he remains capable in the right circumstances.

Deauville’s first Million tilt came as a sophomore (his 2016 scouting report is accessible here), fresh off his biggest victory in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1). His half-length loss to older European shipper Mondialiste was respectable, especially since no three-year-old since Tolomeo (1983) has managed to win the Million.

But Deauville missed again last summer, despite entering in top form (see his 2017 scouting report) and enjoying an ideal passage through the race. Indeed, short of stealing it up front himself, you could hardly have drawn up a better trip. He saved every yard of ground tracking a tepid pace, cut the corner to take command, and got beaten fair and square by Beach Patrol. The rub is that Deauville was also outfinished by the 73-1 Fanciful Angel for second, and he barely salvaged third from the 80-1 Enterprising.

Since then, Deauville has endured a couple of other close-but-no-cigar results and four unplaced efforts, making him still winless since the Huxley (G3) in May 2017.

His first start after the Million was the September 16 Woodbine Mile (G1), and Deauville threw in one of his worst performances in 11th of 12 behind World Approval. O’Brien said that the ground was a factor, but one would have thought that a course labeled firm was fine for him. Tactics were in play too, as he was embroiled in a hotly contested pace. Yet the way he emptied, and was eased right out of it, implied something else may have been amiss.

Deauville was not seen again until stretching back out to about 1 1/4 miles for the December 10 Hong Kong Cup (G1). He also experimented with blinkers. By easing back off the pace, though, he left Time Warp to dominate on the front end and faded to 11th of 12 again.

Intended to return in the Dubai Turf (G1) on World Cup night, Deauville missed that engagement and instead reappeared in the April 18 Earl of Sefton (G3) at Newmarket. He ditched the blinkers in favor of his familiar cheekpieces, and turned in a much more representative effort. After stalking, pouncing, and digging in gamely, Deauville was just outdueled by Forest Ranger. The winner was in the form of his life at that point, and he came back to score next out in the Huxley (G3). Although Forest Ranger has been well beaten in the Eclipse (G1) and York (G2) of late, Deauville picked the wrong time to bump into him.

Deauville shipped to Churchill Downs as part of the Ballydoyle posse with Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Mendelssohn, but his designs on the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) were thwarted by the rain. Scratched on Derby afternoon as the course deteriorated to yielding, he made the fruitless round trip.

Hence Deauville, needing something to do, turned up in the May 19 Lockinge (G1). He set the pace but was not surprisingly outkicked down Newbury’s straight mile and settled for fifth to stablemate Rhododendron and Lightning Spear, who just hit a new career high in the August 1 Sussex (G1).

A return visit to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne (G1), where Deauville was a fine third last year, beckoned. Only this time, he folded to 12th in a muddling (read: disappointing) renewal won by 33-1 shot Accidental Agent who was jumping up off a sixth in the Lockinge. Million rival Century Dream (scouting report forthcoming) fared considerably better in the Queen Anne as the fourth-placer.

A different race dynamic worked against Deauville. The 2017 Queen Anne featured a Godolphin pacemaker who set the table for Ribchester’s course record, a tactic that also brought Deauville’s stamina to the fore over a mile. Also note that he was the O’Brien first stringer, unlike this year, when Rhododendron was the prime hope, and Deauville made the running. Still, even allowing for the fact that he wasn’t going to outsprint the specialists home, beating only three rivals was a subpar effort. At least he wasn’t alone that day – the leading players flopped too in a head-scratcher all around.

Deauville used the same prep for Arlington, the July 19 Meld (G3) over 1 1/8 miles at Leopardstown, and for the second straight year, he was overturned by a Jim Bolger runner. Last year, he went down by a head to Godolphin’s Moonlight Magic on unsuitably rain-softened ground. This time, it was another well-regarded underachiever, the mare Turret Rocks, who denied Deauville on the line.

Finishing a close third in the Meld was Dermot Weld’s classy three-year-old Hazapour, fifth in the Derby (G1) at Epsom. Unfortunately, his Meld finish doesn’t help to assess the form as Hazapour exited with a season-ending injury.

You can read the Meld two ways: either Deauville is in the process of rounding back into form, or from the glass half-empty view, he shouldn’t have lost when having things his own way on his preferred good-to-firm surface. But he did try mightily, almost palpably, to stave off Turret Rocks, so his attitude is sound. And if Turret Rocks is inconsistent to the point of annoyance (hence her 14-1 odds in the Meld), she can fire on her day, and Bolger has kept faith in her as a high-class talent.

For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that Deauville’s overall less inspiring record coming into Million 36 is more a function of circumstances than an actual decline in capability. Even so, considering his tendency to find one too good, he’d still need to up his game to win. The Million is a tough spot to snap a 10-race losing skid. That said, Deauville is in his element if he gets quick conditions going left-handed, and he figures to put up another solid display on this course.

Photo of Deauville finishing third in the 2016 Million courtesy of Four Footed Fotos