Secretariat scouting report: Long Island Sound

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 9th, 2016

Long Island Sound (white striped sleeves on left of picture) found the Belmont Derby (G1) too difficult an assignment in just his fifth lifetime start. Even so, the Aidan O’Brien trainee ran a better-than-appears sixth, beaten just a shade over two lengths by his more accomplished stablemate Deauville. With Deauville opting for the Arlington Million (G1), and Long Island Sound projecting improvement, the well-bred colt has rebound appeal.

By War Front and out of Treasure Trail, a Pulpit half-sister to incoming Hall of Famer Zenyatta, Long Island Sound commanded $800,000 at Keeneland – as a November weanling.

The Kentucky-bred didn’t make it to the races at two, and O’Brien gave him a very gentle introduction to the game this spring. He started out over Dundalk’s Polytrack, rallying from just off the pace to win well in his April 1 debut. Seamie Hefferman had to roust him along strenuously turning into the stretch, but he found plenty, and his rider told that the first-timer should improve “a lot” for the experience.

Three weeks later over the same track and one-mile trip, Long Island Sound sped right to the lead with Heffernan. But as easily as he traveled early on, he had to work to draw clear of the pursuing pack down the stretch. That prompted Heffernan to comment, “He’s learning.”

O’Brien continued to bring Long Island Sound along carefully, allowing him to try the turf in another low-key spot, a conditions race at Killarney. Again setting the pace, the bay showed his willing attitude to fend off a challenge and edge away by a good length.

“I thought the track rode a little bit tight for him and it wasn't ideal making all,” Heffernan told “He's a Group horse.”

Now it was time for the training wheels, so to speak, to come off. Long Island Sound stepped up in class and distance for the June 16 Tercentenary (G3) at Royal Ascot, where the soft ground was very much to his disadvantage. Ryan Moore let him settle into stride in the latter part of the field and spun out to rally in upper stretch. After briefly making some headway, Long Island Sound wandered around and hit a flat spot, as though toiling. But the farther he went, the stronger he got, and he stayed on for a clear third to Hawkbill – who came back to beat The Gurkha and older horses in the Eclipse (G1).

Long Island Sound was handed his first international venture in the Belmont Derby. Despite his lack of experience, and the overall stronger resume brought by stablemate Deauville, Long Island Sound was backed into 5-2 favoritism. According to the chart, he was bumped on both sides at the break, but he didn’t appear to be too compromised by it. A more significant factor was his ground loss the whole way around. Trakus notes that he covered 28 extra feet (though not nearly as bad as the 45 extra feet navigated by Beach Patrol).

But Long Island Sound also made it harder on himself. Losing position a bit nearing the far turn, he clung to his wrong lead for nearly the entire stretch. Colm O’Donoghue got him organized late, and he seemed to pick up as he crossed the wire as part of a bunch. Although sixth, he wasn’t beaten far for third.

Long Island Sound somehow still managed to produce one of the field’s better final quarter splits in :23.15.


The talent’s there; it’s just a matter of getting him to put it all together. Like Deauville, Long Island Sound is part of the O’Brien army nominated to the Cox Plate (G1) October 22. He’s dispatched the past two Secretariat winners for Australia’s most prestigious weight-for-age event: Adelaide prevailed in the 2014 Cox Plate, and last year, Highland Reel was third to the great racemare Winx.

Cropped from NYRA/Coglianese photo of Belmont Derby finish - Long Island Sound on left, Surgical Strike (fifth-placer) in middle, Beach Patrol (third) in light blue on right