Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Deauville shipped in to Belmont Park from Europe to capture the Grade 1, $ 1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational, just holding off the American-trained Highland Sky by a diminishing neck on the wire. The sophomore son of Galileo defeated 12 other 3-year-olds, covering 10 furlongs on the firm turf in a sparkling 2:00.51 for trainer Aidan O’Brien. He was ridden to victory by Jamie Spencer.
“I saddled two good horses, the trip just worked out a little better for the winner,” said O’Brien’s assistant T.J. Comerford. “He finished stronger, had a good setup and was left with plenty of run. The best horse won and he gave a great effort.”
Breaking from the far outside post in the field of 13, Deauville was rushed up for the lead at the start of the race by jockey Spencer, just settling for second behind longshot Toughest Ombre. Toughest Ombre led the Irish invader through a first quarter in :24.41, easing up to :50.20 for the half-mile fraction while 1 1/2 lengths in front of Deauville. Applicator and Surgical Strike were tucked in just behind, with US favorite Camelot Kitten in fifth and Irish favorite Long Island Sound, out of a half-sister to Zenyatta, in sixth early on. Highland Sky was dead last down the backstretch.
Approaching the second turn, Deauville rallied up the outside of Toughest Ombre just as that one folded, giving the O’Brien trainee a one-length advantage at the top of the stretch. He was immediately followed by a six-wide rally of colts trying to get to him, but the only one who truly challenged Deauville was Highland Sky, who made a very belated run down the center of the racetrack. With less than a sixteenth a mile to run, Highland Sky was able to get to the throatlatch of Deauville, but the Irish-bred dug in to finish a neck in front of Highland Sky. Beach Patrol was game to finish third, and Camelot Kitten hung on to be fourth.
“I spoke to Aidan [O’Brien] earlier and he was adamant that if I got a good break, to be positive and lead if there wasn’t a leader,” said jockey Spencer. “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.”
Bred in Ireland by Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Deauville is out of a daughter of Danehill. He captured a G3 overseas and placed in a pair of Group 2 stakes, but the Belmont Derby Invitational is his first top-level victory. Overall, Deauville’s record stands at three wins from seven starts, now with earnings of just under $ 900,000.
Of the runner-up Highland Sky, trainer Barclay Tagg said: “He likes to come from behind and it’s hard on him. You need a lot of luck as you have to get around 13 horses. He loses a lot of ground every time. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way he’s made and the way it works.”
Watch the race replay here:
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