It is opening day for arguably the most prestigious race meeting in Europe and the world, Royal Ascot. A major event on the racing and British social calendar, Royal Ascot certainly lives up to its motto “Like nowhere else”. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne(Honored with the running of today’s Queen Sam),Ascot racecourse is located in Berkshire England, approximately 6 miles from Windsor Castle and hosts 26 race days annually including the 5 day Royal Ascot meet. 19 Group races are run over the 5 day period including 8 at the Group 1 level attracting past stars such Frankel, Giant’s Causeway, Black Caviar, Henrythenavigator, Goldikova, Cape Cross, Yeats, Ouija Board, Dubai Millenium, and Rock of Gibraltar to name a few. Signifying the start of the racing day is the Royal Procession, a tradition started by King George IV in 1825 and continued to this day by Queen Elizabeth.
Today we will preview the opening day card highlighted by two Group 1 races The Queen Sam and the King’s Fall and two supporting races the G.2 Winter Forest Stakes and Gr.2 Coventry Stakes which collectively represent 22 separate Group race winners, 10 Group 1 winners, 7 racing millionaires, and a total career earnings of over 15 million dollars.
Queen Sam Stakes
1600 Meters- 8 Furlongs TURF
Jockey: O A. Haack
Record: 23: 4-6-3
Comes into this race off of back to back victories including the Gr.1 Sydney Mile last out posting a 116 speed figure after contesting the early pace and holding on by a head in his debut at this level. Has a win over this race track in a open allowance at 8.25 over a year ago, came from just off of it to win by nearly 2 lengths posting a 106. This millionaire is live off his last out effort and will be a contender and pace presence with his near the front running style.
Jockey M. Zeus
Record: 19: 7-2-2
Our 6-1 favorite and another coming off of a Gr. 1 win in their last having won the Locksmith with a powerful closing run matching his career best 118 speed figure that he ran in similar fashion to win the GRS Breeder’s Cup Mile to close out his 4 year old season. Has a very representative 4 starts 1 win 2 seconds in graded stakes races going the flat mile. With a clean trip and an honest pace to run at, this one will be a serious threat late in the race.
3. Alert the Soldier(Soldier of Fortune)
Jockey: D. Evans
Record: 13: 6-2-2
Started his 4 year old campaign with a solid closing 3rd in the Gr. 2 The What The Who stakes posting a career best 115 speed ratings. Followed that up with a win in the Gr. 3 Blank Eddie coming from off the pace to win by over 2 lengths. Was 4th last out in the Champions Mile in his Gr. 1 debut. Another that sports a solid 4 starts 2 win 1 third in graded stakes going the flat mile. Has the ability and consistency but will need to prove he belongs at the Gr. 1 level.
Jockey: B. Orazio
Also exits the Gr. 1 Champions Mile in his Gr. 1 debut where he finished second missing by 1/2 length with a stalking trip posting a 115 speed rating. Won an allowance and local restricted stakes to start his season, both over the mile distance. Experienced at the 8f distance with a versatile running style. Live longshot at 12-1
5. Sup Bro(Lonhro)
Jockey: B. Jungnitsch
Record: 21: 7-3-5
Winner of over 2.5 million dollars coming off his second straight victory in the aforementioned key race the Champions Mile. Ran 4th in this race last year at odds of 15-1 and comes into this years edition with a nearly identical prep schedule, using a 7f allowance race and then a win in the Champions Mile as a springboard here. Speed figures for those 2 starts have declined in comparison to last year but this multiple Gr.1 winner’s ability to make up a ton of ground in the stretch and his obvious class make him one to fear in this one.
6. Varunzene(Variety Club)
Record: 16: 8-1-1
Winner of half his starts, this 5 year old will be making his Gr.1 debut here. Broke through at the graded level with a win in the GR.3 Millers Cup two back in Japan earning a career high 118 speed figure. Stepped up to 9F and the Gr.2 level last out where he finished evenly splitting the field for a 6th place finish in a field of 13 posting a 112 speed rating. His last put 118 at 8F is good enough to make him competitive here but will need to prove he can handle this class.
7. Edenbridge King(Kingman)
Jockey: J. Seldon
Finished 3rd in a local allowance to start the year before breaking through with an eye catching closing run to capture the Gr.2 Arcade posting a 117 rating. Ran twice at Ascot last year having won an open stakes at 8.5 earning a 113 for the effort before missing by just a head in the Gr.1 Queen Liz Stakes over today’s distance of 8f flashing a career high 118 in the race. Record over this course must be respected. Keep an eye on at 14-1
8. Sherpa Myth(Galileo)
Jockey: M. Kozlowski
Record: 20: 6-3-1
Gr.2 winner ran a disappointing 9th last out in the Gr.1 Sydney Mile starting on the inside in post position 1. Ran a bang up second beaten less than a length in the Gr. 1 Road Kill Mile in California two back. Inconsistent grinding type has shown the ability to compete at this level on his best day. Will need to run back to the 116 he earned in a Gr.2 over this racecourse just 1 year ago.
9. The Astronomer(Galileo)
Jockey: C. Newberry
Record: 15: 6-4-0
Started the year in the allowance ranks with 2 races over this racecourse closing to run 2nd at 7.5 posting a 109 speed rating. Followed that up with a win at a flat mile by 2 earning a career high 118. Broke through last out in his graded stakes debut winning the Gr. 3 Bad Things Mile with a 116 speed figure. 4 year old Galileo colt has the right to continue his ascent up the class ladder.
10. Windsor Knot(English Channel)
Jockey: M. Kelly
Record: 21: 7-6-1
Speedy front running 5 year old veteran will be making his 22nd start in this race having finished 1st or 2nd in 13 of his 21 races. Has 3 graded wins at this 1 mile distance all in front running fashion with speed figures of 114,112 and 117 including a win last out in the Gr. 2 Sundown Mile. Has yet to break through at the Gr.1 level but did run a solid 2nd in last year’s DiCaprio Handicap where he led by 5 lengths at the top of the stretch before losing the lead late to finish 2 lengths behind the winner. Speed is always dangerous and he has a lot of it. Will try to play catch me if you can for his first Gr.1 score in this one.
11. Gendarme Lv(Lawman)
Jockey: J. Ledwith
Has similar running lines as a few in here having won the Gr.2 The What The Who over the aforementioned Alert the Soldier and Windsor Knot earning an eye popping 120 speed rating from just off the pace. Ran a 120 in his last race of the 2018 season as well finishing second in a Gr.3 event in South Africa. Was 5th beaten 3 lengths by Sup Bro in the Gr. 1 Champions Mile last time out. If he can run back to those two 120 speed figures he will be very tough in this one.
12. Haji(Dylan Thomas)
Jockey: M. Oston
Record: 28: 5-2-2
Gr.1 Winning 6 year old Gelding by the classy sire Dylan Thomas has not hit the board since that Gr.1 win which came in the Maudlin Cup last September in Paris. Versatile runner will need to return to his 2018 form which saw him win 3 stakes including 2 at the graded level if he wants to be competitive against this field.
13. Revolutionary Zeal( English Channel)
Jockey: M J. Kelly
Record: 22: 5-6-3
The “other runner” from the Debargain stable in this race, 5 year old gelding likes to come from way out of it which may be difficult with a lack of pace outside of his stablemate Windsor Knot. He did the Gr.2 Emirates Stakes at a mile last September making up 8 lengths in the stretch to capture the victory earning a 116 speed figure. Was 2nd last out in an open stakes race. Will be making his 3rd start of the year and will need to run a career best to break through at the Gr.1 level where he is yet to hit the board in 2 starts.
Jockey: T. Small
Record: 23: 9-4-2
The race’s defending champion is back to defend his crown here today. 7 of his last 8 races have been at this Gr.1 level including a win and two 3rds with all but one coming at today’s distance of 1 mile. This millionaire will be making his 3rd start off the layoff and will need to step up having not hit the board in his last 3 if he wants to take the crown back home for the 2nd consecutive year.
The King’s Fall Stakes
1000 Meters- 5 Furlongs TURF
Jockey: M. Kirkpatrick
Three time stakes winner is yet to break through at the graded level but just missed out in the Gr.1 Ye Ole Shopping Exchange beaten a neck earning a 109 speed rating back in March. Was 4th last time out in a Gr.3 event in Italy. Could hit the board with the right trip
Jockey: Z. Kentucky
Winner of 3 of his last 4 all in stakes company this lightly raced 4 year old has won 8 of his 14 career starts. Will be making graded stakes debut and doing so at the highest level and cutting back to 5 furlongs but has every right to continue the class ladder. Will be coming down the lane late with patented closing kick.
3. Paerau(Golden Horn)
Jockey T. Small
Another three time stakes winner is coming into this race off of a 4th place finish in the Gr. 3 Calgon Sprint on the Bluegrass Derby undercard. Versatile runner was 11th beaten over 3 lengths in the Sand Castle Turf Sprint in his only other Gr.1 start. Needs to run career best to be a factor.
4. Nuka Domineer(Hussonet)
Jockey: R. Radzinski
Speedy 5 year old has been in the money in 15 of 18 career starts. Started the year with back to back open stakes wins before finishing 8th in the Gr.1 Ye Ole Shopping Exchange. 6th last time out in an open stakes. Speed figures are trending down which indicates a possible decline in form. Very consistent horse overall will need to rebound here today.
5. No Nay Satan(No Nay Never)
Jockey H. Harzheim
Record: 19: 13-4
Winner of an impressive 13 of 19 for over 1 million dollars including back to back stakes wins in local restricted stakes races posting a career best 110 speed figure last time out. Was good enough to make the gate in the Gr.1 Breeder’s Bowl Turf Sprint last year finishing 9th in that race. Just missed early last year finished 2nd beaten a 1/2 length in the Gr.1 Equinics event .In career best form and loves to win. Big Threat
6. Boomalicious(Spirit of Boom)
Record: 21: 8-7-1
Very speedy horse comes off a win in the Gr.1 Sydney Sprint last time out posting a career best 111 speed figure. Just missed by 1/2 length 2 back in a Gr.3 in New Zealand. In the money 16 of 21 starts this horse has improving speed figures and a marquee win coming into this race. Likes to do his work on the front end. Could be the one to beat.
Jockey: K. Banner
Started the year on a three race win streak including an upset score at 12-1 in the Sandcastle Turf Sprint Gr.1 stakes. Ran a credible 4th last year at today’s 5f distance in the Gr.1 Longchamp Sprint. Was 9th last time out in the Gr. 1 Golden Goose Sprint. Will need to bounce back but certainly capable of doing so. Proven at the class and distance.
8. Otto Gonzalez(Dansili)
Jockey: O A. Haack
Lightly raced 4 year old has won 4 of his 8 starts on turf including an off the pace win in an open stakes race going 5.5 furlongs over this track earning a 106 speed rating. A neck away from entering this race on a 2 race win streak having missed by a neck 2 back in an open stakes race at today’s distance of 5f where he earned a 108. Current form puts him right in the mix today.
9. Cheap Way Out(El Nino)
Jockey: S L. Ledwith
Record: 19: 7-2-2
Ran a huge race over this course last year winning the Gr.2 Duke of Mork after leading by 5 at the stretch and holding on to win by a comfortable 1 1/4 length margin bringing in a 114 speed rating. Will be making his 3rd start off the layoff here. Coming in off of a 4th place finish in the Gr.2 The All Ages last out earning a 108 speed rating. Best is good enough to win this.
10. Never A God(Curlin)
Jockey: R. Harzheim
Record: 16: 7-5-1
Curlin filly has been in the money in 13 of 16 lifetime starts. Winner of 3 of her last 4 all in stakes competition including a score in the Gr.2 Oak Lea Plate from off the pace earning a 108. Beaten 2 lengths last out in her Gr.1 debut snapping 5 race win streak. Has every right to bounce back here today in her 2nd attempt at the elusive Gr.1 victory.
11. Arnold Palmer(Sea the Stars)
Jockey: R. Heenan
Record: 10: 3-2-1
Deep closing sprinter comes off an upset victory in a open stakes race going today’s distance of 5 furlongs posting a 112 speed figure at odds of 26-1. Missed by 1/2 length in a stakes to end her 3 year old season finishing 2nd at odds of 38-1. Has to step up in class here but has been known to light up the tote board given the right trip. Will be coming late.
12. Yankee Logan( Giant’s Causeway)
Jockey: D. Aniel
4 year old has never been out of the money in 12 career starts sprinting and has only been out of the money once in his career which was his only start around 2 turns. Multiple stakes winning front runner comes into this race off of a 2nd place finish beaten just a half length in the Gr. 2 Oak Lea Plate earning a 102 speed rating. Could off the bettors a big day at 20-1
13. Son Little( City Zip)
Jockey: B. Wu
Record: 21: 7-4-6
Winner of 3 of 4 in 2019 including a win in an open stakes race going 5.5f last time out earning a 105 speed figure for the win. Two back finished 4th beaten by a slim margin in his stakes debut. Has hit the board in 17 of 21 starts and has every right to keep that record intact.
14. Zoo Bones(Zoustar)
Jockey: J. Sands
Record: 28: 6-6-3
Race favorite breaking from the outside will be making his 5th consecutive start in Gr.1 company having placed in 2 of those events. This millionaire was beaten by less than a length finishing 2nd in the Sand Castle Turf Sprint. Last time out came home 3rd in the Golden Goose Sprint Gr.1. Has the most class in the field and could return to Gr.1 winning form today.
Lets take a look at the supporting graded races.
Winter Forest Stakes
1600 Meter-8 furlongs TURF
Restricted to 4 year olds and up Fillies and Mares
1. Finke Berrylium
Gr.1 winning Millionaire is a head away from being a 2 time Gr.1 winner at this distance. Winner of 8 of 19 and in the money 14 of 19. Comes into this off a 3rd in the Gr.3 Atari going 7f
3. Critical Vision
Claimed for 150k back in January. Since then has made the successful jump into stakes company including back to back wins coming into this race taking the Gr.2 Blood Bond and G.3 Kentucky Distaff. Looks to make it 3 in a row here as your race favorite
7. Free and Trusted
Tactical horse will be on or just off the early pace in this one. Has a Gr.3 to her name back in February winning the 9F Saint George. Was 4th last time out in the Gr.3 Blue win earning a 107 but that was at 10f.
The Coventry Stakes
1200 Meters -6 Furlongs TURF
2 year olds
10. Orchard Avenue
Perfect 2 for 2 both in stakes races. Earning a 75 speed rating last out
14. Forty A Cross
Another undefeated (2-2) colts. Won in stakes debut posting a 77 speed rating last out. Will need to overcome outside post.
6.Evil to Win
Unbeaten in 2 starts won a restricted stakes earning a 77 speed rating last time out coming from off the pace
Tomorrow we will look forward to Day 2 on Sunday which Features the Gr.1 Prince of Whales Stakes,Gr.2 Why You Buggin Stakes, and Gr.2 The St. James Tavern.