How to Bet the Juddmonte International

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 21st, 2018

Unlike in North America, where it’s becoming increasingly rare for three-year-old males to face older horses before the Breeders’ Cup, summer showdowns between sophomores and older veterans are still common in Europe, with Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) at York being a perfect example.

Held at a distance of 10 ½ furlongs, the Juddmonte International offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) and has attracted a top-quality field to match its prestige. Remarkably, seven of the eight entrants are Group 1 winners, and the eighth has won at the Group 2 level, so separating these talented runners for handicapping purposes could be easier said than done.

Fans of U.S. racing will be most interested in watching #4 Thunder Snow, who decisively defeated a quality field of U.S. runners in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Meydan back in March. But of course, that race was on dirt, and while Thunder Snow is a two-time Group 1 winner on turf, he seems to elevate his game to a different level over the dirt track at Meydan, and it’s also worth noting that Thunder Snow benefited from a very favorable track bias in the Dubai World Cup. The Juddmonte International is being viewed as more of a starting point for Thunder Snow to prepare him for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, (gr. I), so with all of this in mind, I’ll take a stand against him on Wednesday.

More intriguing is the five-year-old #2 Poet’s Word, who has already punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf thanks to a hard-fought victory in the 12-furlong King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot last month. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the son of Poet’s Voice also decisively beat the talented Cracksman in the 10-furlong Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Eng-I) in June, so the 10 ½-furlong distance of the Juddmonte International should be no obstacle.

But one thing to keep in mind is that Poet’s Word will be carrying 132 pounds on Wednesday and conceding seven pounds to the three-year-olds #6 Roaring Lion and #7 Saxon Warrior, who were separated by a neck when finishing 1-2 in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) going 10 furlongs last month.  For Saxon Warrior, the distance of the Juddmonte International might be a bit beyond his best, but it seems perfect for Roaring Lion, a son of Kitten’s Joy who has flashed significant talent going back to last year. With the benefit of a weight break, I think he has a chance to upset Poet’s Word.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$10 exacta: 2,6 with 2,6 ($20) $5 exacta: 2,6 with 7 ($10)

Good luck!