Ladies and gentlemen, some of the world's best horses —top milers, fastest sprinters, and champion routers— will gather at Royal Ascot tomorrow, June 15th to compete in any of seven stakes races for the Day 1 Ascot Card.
Then, there will be another four days of racing to complete the Royal Meeting tradition. More on those races to come. But for now, Day 1 is before us!
2:30 pm - Queen Anne Stakes
3:05 pm - Coventry Stakes
3:40 pm - King's Stand Stakes
4:20 pm - St. James's Palace Stakes
5:00 pm - Ascot Stakes
5:35 pm - Wolferton Stakes
6:10 pm - Copper Horse Stakes
Tom Deimel and Rich Bieglmeier of HRR have got your International Handicapping covered! Watch them break it down, race by race:
If you'd like to jump right in to the top choices, read below what Tom and Rich have to say.
22 to 1 Tom's International Picks
QUEEN ANNE – Group 1 – 1 mile – Track Condition: Good to Firm
This race is devoid of speed and if Palace Pier can be beat, he will need something up front to run at. This may turn into a jockey's race to set a slow pace to beat Palace Pier. Many of these horses have not raced on a firm/hard racecourse. This is a straight 1-mile race.
#6 Palace Pier – has lost once at Ascot and won too. He's ran his race last out making his first move at the 3 furlong and kept on. The overwhelming favorite in this race.
#2 Bless Him – good effort last out vs. Palace Pier. He appears to be in form, and he likes the good to firm surface that he's getting at Ascot. He's primed for a big effort here.
#5 Order of Australia – the Breeder's Cup mile winner (at a big price) must be considered here. He broke from the outside post at the Breeder's Cup and got a get ride to win. One factor to seriously consider here is the firm going. Keeneland turf was firm, as many US tracks are because we scratch races for the turf if we see a rain drop,
COVENTRY STAKES - Group 2 – 6 furlongs for 2-year-olds
A mixture of winners and non-winners with one filly.
#5 Dhabab – John Goshen doesn't have many 2- or 3-year-old with his new partnership. He won at 6 furlongs in his only race. He's .by the up-and-coming sire No Say Never and dropping back to 5 furlongs should be no big deal. He will have to run the race of his life to win. Top trainer will have him ready.
#10 Masseto – has run well in first two starts. Steps up here but appears to be a fast horse with a lot of upside as a 2 year old. Donnacha O'Brien trainee failed as the favorite last out.
#15 Tolstoy – this is another John Gosden trainee with Frankie Dettori riding. Good starting post and won first start nicely. Frankie does well at Ascot and can't be dismissed here.
One I am dismissing is the favorite Krufymaker work well and won at Keeneland but not for me in this race. Wesley Ward hasn't won at 6 furlongs or over in any 2-year-old races at Royal Ascot, he's 0 for 18. 5 furlongs, no problem. Wesley Ward will win at this distance one day because he is buying more horses at auction in Europe.
KING'S STAND STAKES – Group 1 – 5 furlongs for older horses
Some of the best sprints in the world with some from the US to really push the pace of this race. This is a race includes both colts, geldings, fillies and mares.
#16 Winter Power – She's run some nice races at lower levels but has proven to be a winner. She faced the boys at York last out. She looked like she was going to get caught in her last race but kept on going and going. She's a 3-year-old facing a tough task, is she's up for the task ahead? The surface maybe an issue for her.
#6 Maven – Wesley Ward trainee will be on the front end in this race. Last out winner at Keeneland for his first start of the year. Distance suits and he has the speed to hang on. He will make Battaash work hard here. John Velazquez has the mount as he did last time. He's won in France at group 3 level. Firm going is to his liking and this is a prime race to him. This is a big step up, but he may be ready for a very good year.
#2 Battaash – one of the world's top sprinters on the turf at the age of 7. The one to beat but during his layoff is had surgery for a fracture and a pin placed. So, is he the same horse or can he be beat? Another issue of him is the speed of this race. He likes to go to the lead and luff a bit on the lead, with horses like Extravagant Kid will be quick from the gate and press the pace. He won this race last year after many tries.
ST JAMES'S PALACE STAKES – Group 1 3-year old's – 7 furlongs
#3 Chindit – last out was at a mile, he finished an ok 5th but his 4 races before were at 7 furlongs. He's a sprinter? He won at group 2 & 3 level, so this is a move up but at a distance that suits him. He's run well over the good to firm track conditions so he will have an ideal track to win on. I am thinking about 8-1 or better. Win/Place at good bet.
#4 Highland Avenue – I liked him in his last race, and he finished second after three wins in a row. The track was listed as heavy, and he did well. But these races weren't at the group 1 level. This is a huge step up but he should be able to run his race.
#6 Lucky Vega – this is his last race. He is being shipping to Australia to stand stud. He looks good on paper but has won in a long time. Favorite last time out. This appears to have been the owner/trainers goal all along? Watch the odds.
The final 3 races are handicaps, stakes or list races with big fields. Watch out for any Roger Varian horses here. He done well in the past at prices. Each of the 5 days, we get these races at the end of the card. These can be played each way bets (Win/Place) and the bigger the field the placing will pay down to the fourth or fifth horse.
#14 Coeur De Lion
#17 Rochester House
# 16 Mancini
#1 Cape Gentleman
#10 Fox Tal
#14 Victory Chime
#11 Juan Elcano
#6 Blue Chip
#13 Patrick Sarsfield
Copper Horse Stakes
#7 Dubious Affair
#5 Brilliant Light
Race 1 QUEEN ANNE
6 - Palace Pier
9 - Regal Reality
11 - Top Rank
5 - Order of Australia
Race 2 COVENTRY STAKES
17 - Kaufymaker
1 - Angel Bleu
6 - Ebro River
10 – Masseto
Race 3 KING'S STAND
2 - Battaash
16 - Winter Power
3 - Extravagant Kid
12 - Liberty Beach
Race 4 ST. JAME'S PALACE
8 - Mostahdaf
4 - Highland Avenue
11 - Poetic Flare
2 - Bullace