Hanson: Selections for Day 4 at Royal Ascot on June 18
A prolonged system of strong storms were forecast to greatly affect course conditions at Royal Ascot late this week, and at this writing it's hard to know what the end result is going to be and what it will look like. Suffice it to say, that in looking through Friday's card, we've kept in mind the strong likelihood of soft ground and attempted to handicap, accordingly, the following features:
Albany S. (G3) -- Race 1 (9:30 a.m. ET)
Our top selection in a seemingly wide-open renewal is #9 HELLO YOU (9-2), who won in a highly professional manner in the rain over the synthetic at Wolverhampton on debut and is bred to be just as effective on the grass.
King Edward VII S. (G2) -- Race 2 (10:05 a.m. ET)
#2 ALENQUER (3-2) owns the strongest piece of form in this 1 1/2-mile "Ascot Derby" courtesy of a half-length victory in the April 23 Classic Trial (G3) at Sandown over Adayar, who went on to upset the Epsom Derby (G1) earlier this month after an interim second in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Alenquer was not supplemented to Epsom after suffering a setback, but looms the one to depose off that performance. Plenty of stamina in this pedigree, and his performances on soft ground as a juvenile were fine.
#7 Title (5-1) steps up from a maiden victory over the stakes-placed filly Sea Karats at Yarmouth in a time for 1 7/16 miles equal to that of Kemari's maiden victory on the same card, and that horse captured Wednesday's Queen's Vase (G2) impressively. In a field where most of Alenquer's rivals are relatively exposed, this one has room for further progression.
#1 Gear Up (7-1) captured the 1 1/4-mile Criterium de Saint-Cloud, which is often an inflated Group 1, but his handling of heavy going in that race last October suggests he can fare better than some of the others if the conditions get truly deep. This is a much-needed drop in class after showing little progression in either the Dante (G3) or Epsom Derby. #5 Tasman Bay (12-1) has placed recently behind the capable colts Hurricane Lane and John Leeper, thus he fits plenty well in this spot.
Commonwealth Cup (G1) -- Race 3 (10:40 a.m. ET)
With 21 three-year-olds stampeding six furlongs, this might be the toughest handicapping puzzle of the week among the Group races. #3 DRAGON SYMBOL (6-1) has done little wrong other than losing a nose bob in the Sandy Lane (G2) last time to Rohaan, who pulled off upsets of both major English preps for this but was not entered. That Haydock ground was deep, so Dragon Symbol can handle most any footing, and is a likely threat if he transfers that form here.
From a form cycle perspective, #8 Method (15-1) should fare better second off the layoff following a fifth-place run in the Sandy Lane. Second to the decent Winter Power in a Group 3 going five last fall, he is better suited to this six-furlong trip.
There's no telling how good the filly #21 Suesa (9-2) is, but we'll find out. She's beaten males convincingly in all four career starts, including a pair of Group 3s. This is her first race outside Chantilly, though, and the price will be relatively low on the first-time traveler. #13 Campanelle undoubtedly one of the more talented juveniles Wesley Ward has won with in Europe, and no shame in her not stretching that speed a mile in the Breeders' Cup last fall. This has been her target since and she's presumably primed, but this could be a tough slog and likely no true value to be had with Dettori up as she attempts to win off a very long break. #12 The Lir Jet won the Norfolk (G2) here last year and has acquitted himself well against tougher company at times. The poor showing in the Sandy Lane was hardly representative, but he might struggle to rebound on ground that's too soft.
Coronation S. (G1) -- Race 4 (11:20 a.m. ET)
#10 PRETTY GORGEOUS (9-2) traded decisions with #12 Shale and beat #6 Mother Earth three times last term en route to being co-topweight among juvenile fillies in both England and Ireland last season, but illness prevented her from making the 1000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket and she was certainly below peak fitness when beaten a little more than three lengths as the favorite in the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1). If she's improved at all from two to three, she figures a stronger contender here and at a much better price than usual.
It would be no surprise if #6 Mother Earth (7-2) took this after proving best in the 1000 Guineas and second best in the French equivalent at Longchamp two weeks later. Improved form this year is hard to fault.
If the ground gets real deep, Irish 1000 Guineas heroine #2 Empress Josephine (6-1) is a must-use right back, and this stiff mile should suit a filly that took a long while to get going before prevailing late in the Curragh classic. #7 Novemba (15-1) turned in a freak performance to win the German 1000 Guineas (G2) at Dusseldorf over ground faster than what she'll likely get here, but fared okay in slow conditions once as juvenile. The competition is obviously tougher here and the low draw might be a negative if early-week trends favoring outside posts continues. #9 Potapova (10-1) enters unbeaten from two starts in minor events. Huge class hike here, but understandable why the legendary Sir Michael Stoute would try this as her second dam, Russian Rhythm, won the Coronation and a slew of other Group 1s.