We're switching things up here for this post, and we are doing so in two ways, The first is that we're posting here on Monday night, rather than Tuesday morning. The second is that we're going to Royal Ascot on Tuesday, to play one of the world's great race meetings. The time difference explains the need to post early. They're five hours ahead of East Coast time, and posting on Tuesday morning would be cutting it too close.
As far as racing goes, this is as good as it gets anywhere in the world. While the whole fancy-people spectator experience is not exactly our thing − we much prefer cigar-chomping, Members Only jacket-wearing ralbirds named Vic or Vinny or Buddy, preferably from somewhere like the Bronx or Northeast Philly, to overdressed dweebs in absurd, dandified getups − we cannot quibble with the races themselves. We like the horses so much that we're willing to overlook all the High Society twits to enjoy them. And the fact that this meet is so brief − the Royal Ascot portion goes for just five days, from Tuesday to Saturday − means every day is special. It is very nearly like a Breeders Cup that lasts five days.
The featured races go first at Ascot, and the ones we've handicapped go as races 1-4. They start at 9.30 a.m. (all times here are Eastern). All races are on turf, and the lineup is as follows:
Race 1: Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, 4 and up, 1 mile. Post time: 9:30 a.m.
Race 2: Group 2 Coventry Stakes, 2-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Post time: 10:05 a.m.
Race 3: Grade 1 King's Stand Stakes, 3 and up, 5 furlongs. Post time: 10:40 a.m.
Race 4: Grade 1 St. James's Palace Stakes, 3-year-old colts, 1 mile. Post time: 11:20 a.m.
The turf at Ascot on Tuesday is expected to be good, or good to soft. We have handicapped accordingly. Let's go . . .
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The Queen Anne has a field of 16. All the usual suspects have entries here, Godolphin, Aidan O'Brien, Michael Stoute, Saeed bin Suroor, etc., but we fancy a runner owned by the Aga Khan, trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Frankie Dettori. It's 5-Hazapour, a 4-year-old Irish-bred colt. He won his last race, a one-mile tuneup at Leopardstown in Ireland on May 12, and he should like both the going and the distance. His breeding is a regal as his connections, and we get very square 10-1 odds on him. We will bet him to win.
Ascot Race 1
$25 W on 5-Hazapour
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The favorite in the Coventry is 1-Arizona, a 2-year-old from the Coolmore-Aidan O'Brien juggernaut. He's 5-2 on the morning line, which is a pretty big favorite in a 17-horse field. He broke his maiden impressively last out at the Curragh in Ireland, but there are a couple of reasons that we are not quite sold on him. That was over firm grass, and there will be cut in the turf today. And more important, Arizona dominated what looks like a pretty weak field. In this one, he's going against much, much tougher. We think he's a play-against.
We like 8-Guildsman. This Archie Watson trainee broke his maiden at first asking in his last race, winning smartly over a course that was similar to what he'll be facing here. He's got the breeding to win at this sprint distance, and we think he's a good play at 8-1. We will bet him to win.
Ascot Race 2
$20 W on 8-Guildsman
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In the King's Stand Stakes, the pick is 2-Blue Point. This 5-year-old horse is a sprinting specialist. He's undefeated in three turf sprints in 2019, including a win in the Al Quoz Sprint on the Dubai World Cup undercard at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates. We think he makes it 4-for-4 on the year, and we will bet him to win at 3-1.
Ascot Race 3
$35 W on 3-Blue Point
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The top two betting choices in the St. James's Palace are the 1-2 finishers in the Irish 2,000 Guineas: 5-Phoenix of Spain, who won the race and is 8-5, and 10-Too Darn Hot, who finished second and who is 5-2. We think that Too Darn Hot will turn the tables on his rival today. The Curragh turf the day of the 2,000 Guineas was firm, and that is probably harder than Too Darn Hot likes. With a cut in the going that will be much more to his liking, we think Too Darn Hot wins this one. The others look a cut below, and we will bet Too Darn Hot to win.
Ascot Race 4
$40 W on 10-Too Darn Hot
That's all for the Ascot Card. We'll be back with a look at the Wednesday Ascot action Tuesday night. Good luck at the windows.