Royal Ascot a humbling but learning experience
Not only is this week's Royal Ascot meeting one of the greatest in the world, it can also be one of the most humbling for bettors.
Despite some success in the first couple of races on Friday's card, it's been a very difficult week for me at the windows. While I won't go into too great a detail about my wagering sins, some seem more egregious than others looking back on the first four days.
Keying Solow on top of my Queen Anne exactas was the right move, but none of my tickets included the mare Esoterique. That was an oversight on my part given she had run a strong race against males in the Prix du Moulin last fall, and was making her second start of the season after a solid third in the Prix du Muguet, also against males.
I figured the King's Stand could be dominated by longshots, and I was right. However, I didn't pick the right longshots, and the ones I did back finished well up the track. It's easy to say after you've been taken to the cleaners, but if you don't have a firm opinion in a wide-open race it's best to scale back your play considerably or simply pass.
I followed my own advice this day as I didn't have many firm opinions on the Group races and made only a few token win-place wagers.
I had a strong inkling that, despite dropping in class (which my subconscious perceived as a negative one), Jersey favorite Ivawood would be over the top after running third in the Greenham, 2000 Guineas, and Irish 2000 Guineas. I couldn't for the life of me figure out whom to oppose him with, though, and passed the race.
Standing against Integral in the Duke of Cambridge with another horse-for-the-course, Rizeena, looks smart in retrospect, except for the fact she wound up losing herself to the hard-to-figure Amazing Maria.
This was one of those days where you think the favorites will be very hard to beat, but they end up falling short (e.g. Pleascach, Forgotten Rules). And the one favorite that does come through is one you're not on (hello Time Test!).
Not giving Curvy a little more love in the Ribblesdale was one of my weaker handicapping moments. The filly was riding a three-race win streak and was coming off a score against males (including Epsom Derby fourth Giovanni Canaletto) in the Gallinule. How I managed to place her under less accomplished foes in my pecking order remains a mystery.
The Albany and King Edward VII results worked out well for me, except for the fact Balios dropped from 7-2 to 5-2 in the U.S. pool during the running of the latter.
Perhaps it was the Acapulco factor after her scintillating win in Wednesday's Queen Mary, but there was a subsequent over-usage of Wesley Ward entrants in my wagers the remainder of the week. That cut into my profit margin in the Albany, and also led me to take a less-than-jaundiced view on Hootenanny in the Commonwealth Cup, who was bet hard in a race that was wide open on paper -- more so than my tickets would have suggested.
Trying to beat Ervedya in the Coronation ultimately proved to be not such a bright idea. Rather than treating her as an individual, I relied too much on the fact French invaders have had a modest record in the race this century.
Just like American racing, one thing to take away from the Royal Ascot action is the trips some horses get.
Cannock Chase, my mild stab in the Prince of Wales's on Wednesday, had no luck getting out of a pocket for the longest time. He probably didn't have the class to win at any rate, but might have finished closer if he had been less discouraged by a lack of running room in upper stretch.
Log Out Island, my Norfolk selection on Thursday, was pressed into submission by his own yard mate, King of Rooks. That enabled Waterloo Bridge to pick up the pieces and post the upset.
Trip to Paris enjoyed a dream, ground-saving journey through the stretch to post the upset in Thursday's Gold Cup. He's an improving horse, obviously, but any time you can avoid traveling more than the scheduled 2 1/2 miles the better your chances.
Lucida attempted to rally farthest and widest in the Coronation, while Ervedya and Found had more ideal stretch bids. I'll keep that in mind should they meet again later this season.