English-trained American-owned future Melbourne Cup contender Spanish Mission has won the $1 million Derby Invitational at Belmont in New York.
Raced by Team Valor International and Earle Mack, Spanish Mission has earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November with his win.
A Group winner in England, Spanish Mission is trained by David Simcock and was ridden by Jamie Spencer to win the rich 2400m-race in a tight finish from fellow European Pedro Cara.
“He’s a good horse. I think he’ll get better with age,” Team Valor’s Barry irwin said.
“We’re looking at the Melbourne Cup (in the future) with this horse. Earle would rather win that race than anything, and I’d like to win it as well.”
Spencer said the win was even better because he had dropped his right rein before the home turn.
“Going into the final turn he was giving me all he had,” he said.
“I dropped my right rein and even though I was using the crop, when you drop your reins in a race, it typically signals to the horse that the race is over.
“I would’ve been mad with myself had we lost but he got back on his game and finished strong.”