by Johnny D
June 15, 2021
Often, popular procedure in show business and racing are to ‘save the best for last.’ Ascot opening day proceedings went against the grain Tuesday, as heavily-favored Palace Pier kicked things off with a bang while winning the one-mile, Gr. 1 Queen Anne. Kept within striking distance against little early pace by partner and all-time Royal Ascot leading rider Frankie Dettori, the John & Thady Gosden trained 4-year-old motored home best for the eighth time in nine starts--only loss at Ascot in October when losing a shoe. The five-time Group 1 winner has unequivocally stamped himself as one of the top horses in the world.
The danger in opening on too high a note is that, from there, there’s only one way to go and that’s in a negative direction. Fortunately, that’s not an issue with Ascot. Top notch racing through Saturday is guaranteed to produce additional high notes. Make certain to watch, wager and register for 10X XB Reward Points on all of your Ascot wagers when you play with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET. First post is 9:30 a.m. ET daily.
At a first…second…and even third glance, Wednesday’s Ascot opener--the Gr. 2 Queen Mary Stakes--appears daunting. Keep panning. There’s gold in that stream. Few of us are accustomed to evaluating form for nearly two dozen 2-year-old fillies in one afternoon…let alone in a single race! Another novel experience is solving for a five-furlong turf straightaway dash. No matter. As Winston Churchill once advised, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
In the Queen Mary, Wesley Ward trains the 3-1 favorite #19 Twilight Gleaming, a more than seven-length winner last out sprinting five furlongs at Belmont. But, in this massive proposition, 3-1 odds seem a bit hollow. One could patriotically back the other US invader #1 Artos, trained by Rusty Arnold at 7-1. She ships off a winning five and one-half furlong effort over Churchill Downs turf. Dual Newmarket success #7 Desert Dreamer at 8-1 is a bit appealing, as is #22 Yet, a one-for-one Ryan Moore/Aiden O’Brien charge offered at early 7-1 odds.
If you don’t know the difference between Charlie Appleby and Johnny Appleseed, pay attention. The former is one heck of a trainer and he’s got the powerful Godolphin stock to work with. Forced to scratch UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance from the main event on Belmont Stakes Day, Appleby runners won the Epson Derby in England and also finished first and second in the Gr. 1 Just a Game in New York. He saddles 8-1 #6 Kemari in Wednesday’s second race the Gr. 2 King’s Vase at one mile and three-quarters. The Moore/O’Brien team have favored Wordsworth at 5/2.
Only five go in the Gr. 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes for 4-year-olds and upwards at one mile and one-quarter. The 8-5 favorite is Love, a 4-year-old filly who absolutely dominated fellow sophomore gals last season before she was sidelined in August. She entered the break after winning a previous trio, all Group 1’s, by at least four lengths! She’s won six of 10 and just under $1 million and is handled by the Moore/O’Brien combo. She defeated older foes in her last start, but this will be her first against males. She has the opportunity to hit a new 2021 Ascot high note in just the second day of racing.
Second choice at 9-5 is Lord North, a 5-year-old gelding who won the Gr. 1 Dubai Turf last out at Meydan in March. He’s seven-for-13 lifetime, with over $3 million in the bank for the powerful Frankie Dettori/John Gosden combo. US racing fans may recall this one encountering trouble in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland when fourth, beaten less than three lengths behind Tarnawa, Magical and Channel Cat.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 Royal Ascot Schedule
Race 1 (9:30AM ET) // Queen Mary Stakes (G2)
Race 2 (10:05AM ET) // Queen’s Vase (G2)
Race 3 (10:40AM ET) // Duke of Cambridge Stakes (G2)
Race 4 (11:20AM ET) // Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1)
Race 5 (12:00PM ET) // Royal Hunt Cup
Race 6 (12:35PM ET) // Windsor Castle Stakes
Race 7 (1:10PM ET) // Kensington Palace Stakes