World Class: Deauville win shines light on pay gap


Deauville holds on to land Belmont Derby Invitational

  PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos  

 By Sam Walker 11:00aM 11 JUL 2016 

DEAUVILLE is not the best three-year-old colt in Aidan O’Brien’s yard but he is now the richest after winning the ultra-valuable Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday.

The Dante Stakes runner-up picked up over £500,000 (at current exchange rates) for his success in the Belmont Park feature, which is five times more than his total career earnings before last week.

Despite sitting down the pecking order at Ballydoyle, Deauville went into the Belmont Derby as the joint highest-rated horse in the field with an RPR of 114.

That standard would not be good enough for him to win a top-flight race in Europe, but O’Brien found an opportunity and Deauville capitalised.

This race highlights the sometimes huge gulf between pay and performance in horseracing, with the winner running to an RPR of just 108 to land the most valuable prize O’Brien has won all year.

To put that rating into context another O’Brien horse Washington DC ran to a higher RPR of 111 despite finishing fifth behind Limato in the Darley July Cup on Saturday. He earned just £14,000 for his efforts.

Performance gap

The alarmingly low figure for the Belmont Derby came in part because the race was slowly run and they finished in a heap, with two-and-a-half lengths covering the first nine. But it was nevertheless a disappointing turnout for a race of such high value.

To be clear there have been just three races in Europe this year for three-year-olds which offered a higher total prize-money than the Belmont Derby – the Derby, Irish Derby and Prix du Jockey Club.

Prize-money for the Belmont feature was boosted to $ 1.25 million in 2014 in a bid to internationalise the event and, while it has attracted international runners, it must now be clinging on to its Grade 1 status by a thread.

The last three winners have posted RPRs of 112, 111 and 108, which leaves the three-year average well below what you would expect from a Grade 1 race, particularly one with such huge financial backing.

There is nothing wrong with aiming high and a boost in prize-money is always needed in the early years to put a race on the map, but it is inefficient to maintain a large gap between pay and performance.

These gaps tend to close eventually and if the runners and ratings do not improve in the next few years the prize-money may come down.

Of course, the other way of looking at it is that there is plenty of money waiting across the Atlantic for a three-year-old colt rated 110-115 – and a win at Belmont Park would earn such horses more than they could get in a whole season back in Europe.

Fillies faster

Deauville was given a perfect ride by Jamie Spencer, who tacked across from the widest draw to sit just behind the slow pace one off the rail. He refused to get boxed in, made his move turning for home and just held on from the fast-finishing Highland Sky (108).

The fillies in the Belmont Oaks Invitational clocked a quicker time than Deauville in the Derby, but the pace was still steady (1m13.87s to the 6f) and it was hard to make ground in the straight.

Catch A Glimpse (112) ran up to her best to hold on by half a length under front-running tactics, with Time And Motion (111+) making the best ground against the pace bias to take second.

The best performance at Belmont Park on Saturday came in the Suburban Handicap on dirt, where Effinex got the better of the front-running Samraat (113), scoring by a neck under top weight with an RPR of 121.

Global sprinter

The best performance in the world last week came at Newmarket, where Limato won the Darley July Cup by two lengths despite wandering across the track in the final furlong.

An RPR of 125 ranks Henry Candy’s progressive winner up with Australia’s Chautauqua (124) and Hong Kong’s Aerovelocity (125) as one of the best sprinters in the world this year.

He’s got a good bit in hand of his closest rivals in Europe, who are headed by the likes of Profitable (121) and Twilight Son (120).

His targets are not set in stone, but considering the rules which seem to guide his career (prefers better ground, best at 6-7f, needs 3-4 weeks between races) we can guess at his likely next steps.

The Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6½f at Deauville (7 August) has been mentioned, although seven of the last ten runnings of that race were run on ground slower than good. After that the Haydock Park Sprint Cup (3 September) should feature in his plans.

Despite a gelding operation the four-year-old is supposed to be a bit of a handful, which may put the brakes on any long-haul opportunities later in the year. If he could handle the travel he has the class to be competitive in any of the remaining races in the Global Sprint Challenge.

Those races are all over 6f and consist of the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama (2 October), the Darley Classic at Flemington (5 November) and the Hong Kong Sprint Cup at Sha Tin (11 December).

TOP OF THE CLASS: Limato 125 Henry Candy (GB) (Darley July Cup, Newmarket, 6f, 9 July)


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d’Ispahan131T
2Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
3California Chrome (US)Dubai World Cup127D
4Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
 Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126T
6Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
 Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125T
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125T
 Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby125D
10Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124T
 Galileo Gold (GB)St James’s Palace Stakes124T
 Harzand (Ire)Derby124T
 My Dream Boat (GB)Prince Of Wales’s Stakes124T
Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124T
 Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124T
 Werther (HK)QEII Cup124T


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d’Ispahan131
2Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
 Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126
4Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
 Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
7Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
 Galileo Gold (GB)St James’s Palace Stakes124
 Harzand (Ire)Derby124
 My Dream Boat (GB)Pricne Of Wales’s Stakes124
 Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
 Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124
 Werther (HK)QEII Cup124


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
2California Chrome (US)Dubai World Cup127
3Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby125
4Effinex (US)Oaklawn Handicap122
 Exaggerator (US)Preakness Stakes122
6Taris (US)Humana Distaff121
7Exaggerator (US)Kentucky Derby120
8Creator (US)Belmont Stakes119
 Destin (US)Belmont Stakes119
 Salutos Amigos (US)Carter Handicap119
 Songbird (US)Las Virgenes119

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