That’s the opinion of the British official handicapper, Phil Smith, who has given Michael Stoute’s sensational record-breaking winner a higher rating than John Oxx’s colt achieved in last year’s blue riband.
Workforce, landing a Derby-Oaks double for jockey Ryan Moore, romped home by seven lengths from Aidan O’Brien’s 100-1 shot At First Sight, with Frankie Dettori’s mount Rewilding third, slicing almost a second off the record time for the race.
The handicapper has reacted to his stunning performance by awarding Workforce a mark of 128. Sea The Stars was rated 4lbs inferior when landing last year’s Derby.
Smith said: “That’s very high for a Derby-winning performance. We’ve had Derby winners eventually get higher than that, obviously See The Stars last year – we put him on 124 after the Derby and it was more his Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes performances that saw him go higher.
“But this is really high for a Derby winner at this stage. My only little consideration is I suspect he will always be at his best when coming off a fast pace. I think the way the race was run was perfectly set up for him to show how good he was.”
Workforce was reported yesterday to have come out of the race fine and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, confirmed the Irish Derby on June 27 is his likely next target.
Jockey Moore said of his Derby victory: “He quickened like a great horse and it was really important for me to win this.Time will tell how good he is, but today he put in a great performance.”
Trainer Stoute, saddling his fifth Derby winner, said: “Winning the Derby seems to get sweeter and sweeter and that was a very, very exhilarating display. It is one of the greatest feelings and one of the greatest races, if not the best.”
For Aidan O’Brien, though it was a case of “what if?” after his stable first choice St Nicholas Abbey failed to make it to the race. His three runners, At First Sight, Jan Vermeer and Midas Touch finished second, fourth and fifth but that was little consolation for the Ballydoyle trainer who has not landed this Classic since 2002.
O’Brien reported that 9-4 favourite Jan Vermeer had lost two shoes in running. He said: “He lost both his front shoes, but the second horse stays really well. You’ve got to be pleased with that, they were all there. The winner looked exceptional.”
Frankie Dettori said of Rewilding: “He did not have the gears to go with the winner, but stayed on well and will be a lovely St Leger horse.”