Deauville leads international invasion for Belmont Derby

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 4th, 2016

After a lower-key sortie for the 2015 Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park, trainer Aidan O’Brien has mobilized a much stronger force to invade the lucrative turf races on Saturday.

Deauville brings a strong resume into the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (G1), but improving stablemate Long Island Sound isn’t to be overlooked.

O’Brien is mounting his best challenge so far in the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1), with Ballydoyle light years ahead of the couple of fillies who flew the flag for the yard here in 2014-15. And second-stringer Coolmore also has more going for her than meets the eye.

Here’s Part 1 of the scouting report on the O’Brien brigade and the other expected internationals.


Deauville has been competing in more prestigious races than Adelaide, the near-miss runner-up in the 2014 edition for O’Brien. While Adelaide was making his Grade 1 debut at Belmont, Deauville has been tried at that level in last fall’s Racing Post Trophy (G1) and most recently in the Derby (G1) at Epsom. It would be unfair to add he was found wanting, since he caught unsuitably soft ground on both occasions. Even though Deauville had broken his maiden on heavy, he got away with it versus lesser. In better company, Deauville needs a quicker surface. That’s why O’Brien rerouted him to Belmont in lieu of his original target, last Saturday’s Eclipse (G1) at Sandown.

At two, the Galileo colt scored a notable win in the Tyros (G3) and finished runner-up to Foundation (then a top juvenile) in the Royal Lodge (G2). Deauville kicked off 2016 with arguably his career-best effort, a terrific second to Wings of Desire in the Dante (G2), traditionally billed as the key Derby prep. Wings of Desire went on to take fourth at Epsom, where Deauville faded to 11th.

The cutback to 1 1/4 miles on better ground will bring out the best in Deauville. Note that he’s a full brother to the ill-fated The Corsican, who flirted with coming for the Arlington Million (G1) last year. Also, Deauville is co-owned by Mrs. Fitri Hay, and thus sports the same silks as past O’Brien star Cape Blanco, who plundered an Eclipse Award as champion turf male in 2011.

Long Island Sound sold for $800,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. By War Front and out of a Pulpit half-sister to Zenyatta (and Balance), the Kentucky-bred was unraced at two. The O’Brien pupil started his career in April with back-to-back victories over Dundalk’s Polytrack, and made it three in a row on the turf at Killarney. Long Island Sound finally got a class test in Royal Ascot’s Tercentenary (G3), finishing a useful third on ground that was likely softer than ideal. That result looks even better after Tercentenary winner Hawkbill came back to post a mild upset in the Eclipse. Long Island Sound promises to progress further.

Humphrey Bogart, the sole British challenger, is one of those “grand servants” for a stable – a genuine type who runs his race and pays his way, if a notch below the top level. Trained by Richard Hannon Jr., the son of Tagula scored his signature win in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Connections paid to supplement him to the Derby, and he reported home a respectable fifth. Although only sixth last time in the King Edward VII (G2) at Royal Ascot, it’s tough to wheel back from Epsom in that spot. Humphrey Bogart should turn in a more characteristic effort here. A decent 2-year-old who came within a head of taking the rich Weatherbys Hamilton conditions race, he checked in fourth behind Foundation and Deauville in the Royal Lodge, and earlier this season, he was narrowly beaten by highly-regarded filly So Mi Dar. His Belmont appearance sounds like an occasion for his syndicate to enjoy a New York trip, but he still fits.

Aidan O'Brien from Breeders' Cup Ltd. photo.

Part II on the Belmont Oaks