Deauville brings class to bear under superb Spencer ride in Belmont Derby

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July 9th, 2016

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Deauville has been highly tried versus the best of his generation in Europe, and would have kept to that path but for rain that rendered last Saturday’s Eclipse (G1) a no-go. Rerouted to the lucrative $1.25 million Belmont Derby (G1), the Galileo colt was surprisingly cool on the board, but that represented a 6-1 gift to his loyalists.

The Mrs. Fitry Hay homebred, campaigned in partnership with the Coolmore principals, benefited from a perfect trip engineered by jockey Jamie Spencer to score his first Grade 1 victory. That piece of jockeyship was worth much more than the neck margin over runner-up Highland Sky, who ran another heroic race in defeat. 

Although poorly drawn in post 13, Deauville has tactical speed, and Spencer was clever enough to deploy that asset. Spencer coaxed him into an ideal tracking second through an opening quarter in :24.41. Hence the form horse in the race was attending a longshot leader in the 59-1 Toughest ‘Ombre through steady splits of :50.20 and 1:14.20 on the firm inner turf. You couldn’t have drawn up a better scenario.

When Surgical Strike crept forward to flank Deauville, Spencer asked his mount to go on and thereby averted pocketing on the far turn. Deauville served it up to Toughest ‘Ombre after the mile mark in 1:37.19 and took command entering the stretch. Camelot Kitten tried to launch a bid on the inside, but couldn’t get close enough.

The bigger danger was Highland Sky on the outside. As many as a dozen lengths back in last early, the Barclay Tagg pupil had the proverbial mountain to climb off that moderate pace. Yet he almost managed it, denied only by a high-class invader. Deauville clocked 2:00.51 and returned a healthy $14.60.

"I spoke to Aidan earlier and he was adamant that if I got a good break, to be positive and lead if there wasn't a leader," Spencer said. "When you set them alight, sometimes they don't switch off again. But he switched off great once he turned into the backstretch. He was full of energy and had plenty left in reserve for the stretch. He's a hard-trained horse who was ready for the day."

Beach Patrol outfinished Camelot Kitten by a head for third, and Surgical Strike held fifth. Long Island Sound, O’Brien’s second stringer, wasn’t involved in sixth. He might have found this too big a step in just his fifth career start.

"I saddled two good horses, the trip just worked out a little better for the winner," O'Brien's traveling head lad T.J. Comerford said. "He finished stronger, had a good setup and was left with plenty of run. The best horse won and he gave a great effort."

Deauville has now bankrolled $814,450 from his 7-3-2-0 line. A debut maiden winner who added the Tyros (G3) next time out, the bay concluded his juvenile campaign with a fine second in the Royal Lodge (G2) and a subpar fifth on softish going in the Racing Post Trophy (G1). Deauville resurfaced with a strong runner-up effort in the Dante (G2), beaten only a neck by Wings of Desire after being prominent throughout. On the step up to 1 1/2 miles in the Derby (G1) at Epsom, he caught another rain-softened curse and flopped in 11th. A cutback in trip, and better ground, promised to bring out the best in him, and so it did at Belmont Park.

A full brother to the ill-fated Group 3 winner The Corsican, Deauville is out of the Group 3-placed Danehill mare Walklikeanegyptian, who is herself a three-quarter sister to Canadian champion Callwood Dancer and Italian classic winner Contredanse.

Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand.