Horses head for home in last year’s Coventry Stakes, won by Arizona.
Horses head for home in last year’s Coventry Stakes, won by Arizona.|NBCSN
Thoroughbreds

Royal Ascot Saturday: Garrity picks the Queen Mary, Coventry, Coronation, St. James Palace & Diamond Jubilee

Garrity's first post time is at 8:15 am EDT.

Chris Garrity

A terrific week of racing at Ascot comes to a conclusion on Saturday. They go out with a bang: there are five Group races, three of them Group 1; we are not exaggerating when we say it’s one of the great days of racing of the year, anywhere in the world. This is good stuff. There may not have been any spectators this year, nor any of the fancy-pants pageantry, but the racing has been absolutely top-flight, and we will remember it for a long, long time.

The turf at Ascot has been soft all week, and we expect it to be soft again Saturday. The going, as they say, is everything, and we’ve handicapped these races with an eye on which horses will thrive on the soft grass. Let’s go.

Ascot, Race 2, 8:15 am ET

Group 2 Queen Mary, 5 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Trainer Wesley Ward has had buzzard’s luck so far at this year’s Royal Ascot meeting, just missing with a couple of well-intentioned runners, but we think his unlucky streak ends here: we think 1-Campanelle, who broke her maiden smartly at Gulfstream Park in March, will win the Queen Mary. Speed has held up very well at Ascot this week, generally speaking, and we think Campanelle is going to go right to the front, and will stay there through the finish line. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Ascot, Race 2, $40 to win on 1-Campanelle.

Ascot, Race 3, 8:50 am ET

Group 2 Coventry Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

The synthetic-to-turf angle has been good at Ascot this week, and we are going with a colt here who fits that profile: 15-Talbot, who broke his maiden at Lingfield two weeks ago. He looked like a runner in that race, earning a good figure for the win, and both his pedigree and his running style suggest that he will thrive on turf, and on softer going. At 10-1, we think he’s got a big shot, and we will bet him to win and to place. The bet: Ascot, Race 3, $15 to win/place on 15-Talbot.

Ascot, Race 4, 9:25 am ET

Group 1 Coronation Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Coronation is just a great race, both with its place on the European racing calendar and the composition of this year’s field. Any one of these six would probably be 3/5 in any turf race in North America this summer. These are some good, good fillies.

We like 4-Quadrilateral, a daughter of superstar stallion Frankel who has won three of her four career starts, and we like her quite a bit. She finished third in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 7, less than two weeks ago, and while she missed in that classic race, we do not think she will miss here, as she should thrive on the softer going. Look for her to be in the middle of the pack early, and flying late. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Ascot, Race 4, $50 to win on 4-Quadrilateral.

Ascot, Race 5, 10:00 am ET

Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Colts

The St. James’s Palace is another sensational race, but it looks pretty straightforward: We think 3-Pinatubo is the best 3-year-old turf miler in the world. He missed as the odds-on favorite in the 1,000 Guineas last out, but that was on turf that was much, much firmer than what he prefers, and what he will get here. He’s the likeliest winner on the card, and though he will not be his 2-1 morning line price at post time, we will still bet him to win, and will do so enthusiastically. He’s our best bet of the Royal Ascot meeting. The bet: Ascot, Race 5, $70 to win on 3-Pinatubo.

Ascot, Race 6, 10:35 am ET

Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up

We are going chalky in the Diamond Jubilee: 5-Sceptical has won four in a row, and we don’t see any reason why that streak is going to end here. He’s won his last three starts by big margins, and earned big figures doing it; he might not win by six or eight lengths here, but we do think he will take the trophy. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Ascot, Race 6, $35 to win on 5-Sceptical.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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