How to Bet the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 10th, 2018

This is hardly a creative opinion, but on paper it’s hard to make much of a case against #8 Rushing Fall in Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

Need convincing? Let me give you a few reasons why Rushing Fall should not lose this race:
  1. She’s undefeated in two starts over the Keeneland turf course, winning the 2017 Jessamine Stakes (gr. III) and the 2018 Appalachian Stakes (gr. II) in impressive fashion.
  2. She’s a neck away from being undefeated in six career starts.
  3. She’s proven over the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, having won the Lake Placid Stakes (gr. II) over this distance at Saratoga last time out.
  4. She’s trained by Chad Brown, who is renowned for his success training female turf horses.
  5. She won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) last year.
  6. She’s proven over firm, yielding, and soft turf courses.
  7. She’s drawn the far outside post position and should be able to work out a perfect trip staying in the clear and out of traffic.
Of course, all of this means that Rushing Fall should start as a heavy favorite in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, so betting her to win isn’t the most appealing option, especially when you consider that this race has historically been rather unkind to favorites—since 2000, only three favorites have prevailed, and six of the last seven have been beaten.

Instead, my strategy will be to play Rushing Fall in the trifecta while covering for the possibility that she could be beaten by one of the two European shippers, #1 Nyaleti and #5 Mission Impassible. Both have kept good company in high-class races, and Nyaleti has already made one trip to the U.S., finishing a respectable sixth against older mares in the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. I) at Arlington Park.

Two weeks after that effort, Nyaleti came back to be beaten just 1 ¼ lengths in a quality renewal of the Celebration Mile (Eng-II) at Goodwood, finishing behind only the quality older males Beat The Bank, Whisky Baron, Stormy Antarctic, and Zonderland. Those four might not be world beaters, but they represent significantly fiercer overall competition than Nyaleti will be facing at Keeneland, and that subtle drop in class could be all Nyaleti needs to challenge for victory.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$3 trifecta: 8 with 1,4,5 with 1,4,5 ($18) $2 trifecta: 4,5 with 8 with 1,4,5 ($8) $2 exacta: 4,5 with 4,5 ($4)

Good luck!