It’s time for Royal Ascot – five days of the best racing in the world.
Last summer, in the TIHR office, we tried to compare calendars.
“What are you doing in the second week of June?” ‘Well, there’s Royal Ascot.’ “You’re going?” ‘No, I’m not going, but that’s what I’m doing that week.’
With that in mind, we bring you Royal Ascot 2016.
Race 1. 9:30. The Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. 1 mile. $882,000.
Get started right. American champion Tepin takes on 13 rivals in the opener. A winner of 11 of 19 starts, including a route against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last year, the daughter of Bernstein takes her show on the road. One of four females in the race, Tepin breaks from post 12 for Robert Masterson, Mark Casse and Julie Leparoux.
Rain has turned the ground to soft, which doesn’t help the American champion. Yes, she’s won on soft ground here, but soft ground at Keeneland for a romp in the First Lady and soft ground on a straight course at Royal Ascot are different worlds. She’s the best horse in the race, but she faces her toughest task.
Hat’s off to her connections, here’s to a flag-waving performance by the 5-year-old mare.
The Picks: Belardo, Ervedya, Tepin.
Race 2. 10:05. The Coventry Stakes. Group 2. 2-year-olds. 6 furlongs. $220,500.
Wesley Ward understands the task at hand and he also understands the weather ramifications.
“If it rains,” Ward said. “We’re all in trouble coming from here.”
Ward sends Silvertoni, an undefeated son of Tapit for Silverton Hill and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., against 18 rivals in the first 2-year-old stakes of the meet.
Mokarris and Monks Stand, sons of More Than Ready, and Caravaggio, an undefeated son of Scat Daddy, represent America, at least on the pedigree page.
The Picks: Caravaggio, Psychedelic Funk, Yalta.
Race 3. 10:40. The King’s Stand Stakes. Group 1. 5 furlongs. $588,000.
Ward entered Acapulco for this, but will instead, veer off for Friday’s Commonwealth, in search of better ground. Two-time winner of the King’s Stand, Sole Power, will scratch as well. Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, Mongolian Saturday, drew post 19 for Florent Geroux. Mecca’s Angel looks like the one on soft ground.
The Picks: Mecca’s Angel, Profitable, Jungle Cat.
Race 4. 11:20. The St James’s Palace Stakes. Group 1. 1 mile. $588,000.
Just eight line up but, wow, what an eight. Awtaad, Galileo Gold and The Gurkha, Group 1 winners in three countries, clash in a tactical gem.
The Picks: Awtaad, The Gurkha, Galileo Gold.
Race 5. 12:00. The Ascot Stakes. Handicap. 2 ½ miles. $117,500.
One of our favorite races, flat horses stretch their stamina while jumpers try to spark their speed. Former John Ferguson jumpers, Qewy, Penglai Pavilion, Galizzi and Wolfcatcher return to the flat for Godolphin. Willie Mullins tabs Ryan Moore for Pique Sous. American Grand National runner-up, Eshtiaal, rates a look.
Get the darts.
The Picks: Semper Medici, Mill Springs, Totalize.
Race 6. 12:35. The Windsor Castle Stakes. Listed 2-year-olds. 5 furlongs. $117,500.
Wow, 24 juveniles congregate for the finale.
Eoin Harty travels with Drafted. Harty purchased the son of Field Commission for $35,000, broke his maiden at Keeneland and sold him to Godolphin. Ward ventures with Big City Dreamin, off a win at Keeneland as well. Joseph O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien send out runners. Tomily makes his fifth career start for Richard Hannon.
Watch the performance of Caravaggio in the Coventry, if he wins, it bolsters Mister Trader’s chances.
The Picks: Mister Trader, Tomily, Drafted.