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UPI Horse Racing Weekend Preview

After last weekend's extravaganza at Saratoga, American racing takes a bit of a breather this time around, providing a perfect opportunity to look a few days ahead to Royal Ascot, which kicks into gear Tuesday for its usual five-day run of racing, glitz and "glamour".

The Royal meeting offers up nineteen Group stakes including eight Group 1's, showcases some up and coming 2-year-olds, provides some international intrigue and has become interwoven with the Breeders's Cup program.

With King Charles undergoing cancer treatments, the Monarchs' attendance is not guaranted, though they were on hand earlier in the month at the Derby at Epsom. However that plays out, it's unlikely the Royal meeting will be devoid of Royals.

Pending final declarations, which can change things significantly:

The festivities start at the top with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes down the Ascot straight kicking off Day 1. Reigning Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf champ Inspiral headlines the entries. That's followed by the Group 2 Coventry for 2-year-olds at 6 furlongs, then the Group 1 King Charles III at 5 furlongs and the Group 1 St James's Palace for 3-year-old colts at 1 mile on the round course. Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Big Evs holds an entry for the King Charles while Qipco 2,000 Guineas 1-2 finishers Notable Speech and Rosallion are in the St James's Palace.

Wednesday's slate has the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at 1 1/4 miles, the Group 2 Queen's Vase for 3-year-olds at 1 3/4 miles, the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes for filles and mares going 1 mile on the round course and the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 5 furlongs. The 2023 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Auguste Rodin, is among the Queen's Vase entries.

Thursday is Gold Cup day. The Group 1 challenge for stayers at 2 1/2 miles is always a highlight of the meeting and Kyprios bids to cement his status as post-Stradivarius kingpin with a third straight win after two losses. Supporting are the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 5 furlongs, the Group 2 Ribblesdale for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/2 miles and the Group 3 Hampton Court for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles.

Friday brings two more Group 1 races, the Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs and the Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile. Also on tap are the Group 3 Albany Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 6 furlongs and the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings at 1 1/2 miles. Fallen Angel and Opera Singer, first and third in the Irish 1000 Guineas, appear in the entries list for the Coronation Stakes.

The curtain falls Saturday but not before the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at 6 furlongs, the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at 1 1/4 miles and the Group 3 Jersey Stakes for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs.

France

Before the first carriage procession at Ascot, there's Group 1 action Sunday at Chantilly in the Prix du Diane for 3-year-old fillies. It's always a tough race but the eye wanders immediately to Dance Sequence, the Dubawi filly who finished second the Qipco 1,000 Guineas in her last start.

Back in the USA:
 
Filly & Mare Sprint

Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Bed o' Roses at Aqueduct looks like a right toss-up with Flying Connection a narrow 3-1 favorite on the morning line among the 10 entries.

Turf

Saturday's $175,000 Chorleywood at Churchill Downs has a field of 11 to go 1 3/8 miles on the turf and if there's a solid favorite, the oddsmaker couldn't find him.

A field of nine is entered for Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park and it's another program-stabber.

We await the entries for Sunday's $100,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita, a 1 3/4-miles marathon, and $100,000, 1-mile Cinema for 3-year-olds.

Filly & Mare Turf

It's tough to eliminate any of the 10 entries, bar maybe Tic Tic Tic Boom, from Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park. It's a pretty nice race with some good betting prospects.

Towser and Angel Nadashiko, both trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., are the morning-line picks in a field of nine distaffers to go 1 mile in Saturday's $95,000 Powder Break at Gulfstream Park.

Turf Sprint

How popular have turf sprints become? Sunday's $100,000 Get Serious Stakes at Monmouth Park has 11 set for 5 1/2 furlongs. That's nothing. Down the coast, Sunday's $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park drew 15 entries, one for "main track only". And out west, Saturday's Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares down the hillside course corralled a field of 6 -- decent for California these days.

Distaff

Our Pretty Woman and Intricate are the morning-line favorites among six 3-year-old fillies set to go 1 1/16 mile on the dirt in Saturday's $175,000 Monomoy Girl at Churchill Downs. Our Pretty Woman, second in the Fair Grounds Oaks, looks to bounce back from an 11th-place showing in the Kentucky Oaks. Intricate's big score was the Grade II Golden Rod at Churchill Downs back in November.

Classic

Saturday's $150,000 Pegasus at Monmouth Park has some refugees from the Triple Crown trail. Among them, find Grade III Tampa Bay Derby winner Domestic Product, Grade III Withers winner Uncle Heavy, Grade III Holy Bull winner Hades, Mucho Macho Man winner Otello and Long Branch Stakes winner Sea Streak. Despite all that, Wood Memorial seventh-place finisher Tuscan Sky is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line.

Dirt Mile

It's amazing how fast a horse can fall off the radar scope. Bright Future looked like he had just that after winning the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup last September at Saratoga but then reported a late-running sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Todd Pletcher charge hasn't raced since but returns as the even-money favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park.

Big Evs, seen winning the 2023 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, is entered on the first day of Royal Ascot, photo by Alex Evers, EclipseSportswire, courtesy of Breeders' Cup

 

 

                             
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