The Fugue rose to the occasion Wednesday, relishing the quick ground and sprinting away from Magician and Treve to win the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in track-record time.
The latter scuttled her way to the start and never traveled like she can. In full disclosure, trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said she didn’t like the way the French raider galloped to the start and anybody watching would have agreed. Fast ground in June is not her thing. Soft ground in October, look out.
As for The Fugue, she bounced back from finishing 11th in the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan in March to win for the sixth time. Jockey William Buick, who walked off in tears after riding The Fugue to finish a rough-upped second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, had his day, pressing the button at the right time and getting the instant response he expected.
“The Fugue was in top order today – we didn’t have to stop the ferries, the planes and the ports! Full credit to Treve – it was marvelous of them to bring her here. I think she is unbeatable over a mile and a half with cut in the ground in the autumn and we would not go near her then. But I thought we had half a chance if we met Treve on good to firm ground over a mile and a quarter in mid-summer – we might do her for a bit of toe.”
Trainer John Gosden had his second Group 1 win at Royal Ascot after Kingman starred Tuesday.
“We pulled out at 6 a.m. this morning and Kingman came to his stall and said, ‘I want to go out – why am I not going out?’ He ate up last night and is in great form. It was great for Kingman because he has gears and I gave James (Doyle) the confidence to wait. Just wait until the furlong-pole and then blitz them because he has that speed which is very rare,” Gosden said. “Same thing today with William – another young jockey. I said don’t be in a hurry – last year he was criticized for getting there late. I said just do the same – it is a smaller field and there won’t be a problem. He rode her beautifully.”
As for Thursday…
The First. The Norfolk Stakes. 9:30. As Wesley Ward said after winning on opening day, “They get tougher from here.” The American-based trainer sends out To Be Determined, a 2-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality who finished third in her debut at Churchill Downs in May. Owned by Ten Broeck Farm, she breaks from the 3 post with Victor Espinoza. She’s one of two maidens in the 10-horse field that converges for the Group 2 stakes. Coolmore comes guns blazing with The Great War, an undefeated American-bred son of War Front. Bred by Claiborne Farm, The Great War fetched $1 million in 2013 at Keeneland September. A half-brother to winners Escort and On The Map, The Great War pedigree page includes $888,773-earner Trip, Bing Crosby winner Zensational and Illinois Derby winner Departing. Turn back? Mind Of Madness ran two days ago, finishing 15th behind Hootenanny.
Second Race. The Tercentenary Stakes. 10:05. American-breds Cannock Chase and Somewhat take on seven others in the Group 3 stakes. Cannock Chase, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, has won his last two for Sir Michael Stoute.
Third Race. The Ribblesdale Stakes. 10:45. Group 2 stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The undefeated Final Score ventures from Italy, the once-beaten Vazira swoops in from France and Wonderstruck carries the green, white and blue of Lael Stable.
Fourth Race. The Ascot Gold Cup. 11:25. Group 1 stakes going 2 1/2 miles. Eleven Irish-breds, two German-breds, a French-bred and one British-bred in the field of 15. Ages range from 4 to 8. Simenon, a former jumper, won twice in four days at Royal Ascot in 2012 and hasn’t won since. The Queen’s Estimate returns, she won the Gold Cup by a neck over Simenon last year. Sure, she’s The Queen, but she’s also a racing fan, as we saw last year when she cheered on Estimate.
Estimate hasn’t run since October. Yes, she goes 2 1/2 miles without a prep.
Coolmore brings Leading Light, 6-for-8 in his career but unproven at the distance. The 4-year-old son of Montjeu is out of the Gone West mare, Dance Parade.
Fifth Race. The Britannia Stakes. 12:00. American Hope, a 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid, represents the Magnificent Seven and trainer Mike Murphy. Anybody know the Magnificent Seven? Jump trainer, Alan King, in search of his at Royal Ascot victory, sends out Chatez. Zampa Manos, bred in America by Hunter Valley Farm, offers big odds for trainer Andrew Balding. George Strawbridge is represented by Born in Bombay. Thirty runners!
Sixth Race. The King George V Stakes. 12:35. Time to get back to work.