Selections for Tuesday’s features at Royal Ascot 2020
Opening day of Royal Ascot 2020 offers a racing menu somewhat different from the norm. The Queen Anne (G1) and King’s Stand (G1) remain as Group 1 fixtures, but the other major events typically held on Tuesday, the St James’s Palace (G1) and Coventry (G2), have switched to Saturday.
Three Group contests were moved forward to Tuesday – the King Edward VII (G2), Ribblesdale (G2), and Duke of Cambridge (G2) – so now we have a total of five races to examine for our featured selections.
Note also that this year’s Royal Ascot has earlier post times than usual as a reflection of the extra races on tap. Tuesday’s 1ST race, the Buckingham Palace H., goes off at 8:15 a.m. (ET).
Race 2 – Queen Anne (8:50 a.m. ET)
1st – #11 Roseman (10-1): Roger Varian trainee was rampantly progressive last term, climbing from unraced sophomore to smashing Newmarket listed winner in just a handful of starts, and despite a long midterm layoff. Still a raw-looking type when runner-up in the Heron S. to King of Comedy (the next-out near-misser in the St James’s Palace), Roseman was a better-than-appears fifth in the Hampton Court (G3) (where Fox Chairman was a troubled second). The step up to 1 1/4 miles might have been a tad too much at that stage, but a squeezed start from a wide post didn’t help, and he closed from last in midstretch. His best efforts have all come when he took up a forward position, most convincingly in the Nov. 2 Ben Marshall when leaving classy elder Century Dream 4 1/2 lengths back in second and Accidental Agent, the 2018 upsetter in this race, third. By Kingman and out of a full sister to star miler Immortal Verse, from the family of Assert and Last Tycoon, Roseman has upset potential written all over him.
2nd – #9 Mustashry (10-1): My top pick here last year off a tour de force in the Lockinge (G1), the Sir Michael Stoute veteran disappointed in seventh. But he looked more like his old self in his 2019 finale, the Challenge (G2) at Newmarket. Not seen since, Mustashry might be ready to fire a better shot than he did a year ago, at a better price. The counterpoint is that Sheikh Hamdan’s retained rider, Jim Crowley, sticks with up-and comer Mohaather (more on him below), so Dane O’Neill picks up the ostensible second string.
3rd - #3 Circus Maximus (5-2): Aidan O’Brien favorite has earned his status by virtue of scores in last season’s St James’s Palace (on the round course, not this straight mile) and Prix du Moulin (G1). But both came in tactical situations that left me not entirely convinced he’s a pure miler – after all, he won the Dee and finished sixth in the Derby (G1) before cutting back in trip. Circus Maximus did not change my opinion with his fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Perhaps this stiffer course will help him take another mile major, but at the short price, I can’t avoid the idea that he can be outkicked by a specialist. If so, his talent and consistency ensure that he won’t be far off.
4th - #8 Mohaather (10-1): It would be par for the course if I’m right about the favorite’s vulnerability but tab the wrong dark horse. Sidelined after a smart victory in the 2019 Greenham (G3), the Marcus Tregoning pupil resurfaced with a pleasing fifth in last fall’s Queen Elizabeth II (G1) over this course and distance. Mohaather did very well considering that was his first try at a mile, and he caught a heavy track off a six-month layoff. It’s easy to see why his upside appeals to Crowley, compared to the known quantity of Mustashry, but my hesitation is whether a mile will turn out to be his ideal trip at this level.
Race 3 - Ribblesdale (9:25 a.m. ET)
1st - #11 Trefoil (5-1): Strong debut winner over males at Newmarket last fall (including much-improved Derby contender English King) stayed on well for third in her reappearance in the Pretty Polly. That was a respectable effort in an odd race with an unexpectedly runaway winner in Run Wild, and Trefoil looked every inch in need of a stretch-out to 1 1/2 miles. Trained by fillies’ maestro Ralph Beckett, the daughter of Teofilo strikes me as a bit more streetwise than the favorite.
2nd - #5 Frankly Darling (7-5): One of John Gosden’s array of female talent, the Frankel filly was a promising second on debut to well-regarded Cabaletta before returning to crush males in a Newcastle maiden. The Oaks (G1) prospect traveled beautifully but took a few strides to pick up in earnest, and she might need this experience on the learning curve.
3rd - #3 Born With Pride (6-1): Her debut victory in the listed Montrose Fillies’ S. turned out pretty well, with runner-up Peaceful just capturing the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) and the third being Run Wild. Ignore her latest in the Classic Trial (G3) versus males at Kempton, where she was out of position from a sluggish start. Back on a more suitable course and up in trip, the half-sister to Shraaoh and Raheen House will give a better account of herself. The only scruple is that her career high came on heavy ground. The suspicion is that favored her, in a shrewd bit of placement by trainer William Haggas. Rain’s in the forecast but it’s unlikely to be enough to render it truly soft on opening day.
4th - #9 Passion (15-1): Full sister to Capri is capable of substantial improvement over this distance. The O’Brien pupil was already labeled as a 12-furlong type at the time of her mile maiden win, and her turnaround for the May Hill (G2) is best regarded as an educational venture. Passion’s warm-up fourth to the smart Jessica Harrington duo of Silence Please and One Voice in the Salsabil at Navan could put her just right.
Race 4 - King Edward VII (10 a.m. ET)
1st - #2 Mogul (4-5): Class of the field is presumably using this as a springboard to the July 4 Derby. O’Brien told At the Races that he’ll “probably need” this race, but even so, he’s difficult to oppose in a small field without a rival of commensurate stature. Mogul announced himself as a major Epsom candidate in the KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2), and I’ve been tempted to think that he might have followed up in the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) if it hadn’t been transferred to Newcastle’s Tapeta. He was fourth that day to Kameko, who’s since validated the result by capturing the 2000 Guineas (G1). It will be a surprise if Mogul doesn’t emulate full brother Japan by winning here, even if he’s more workmanlike off the bench.
2nd - #5 Pyledriver (15-1): Longshot comes off a fine second in Kempton’s aforementioned Classic Trial, where he rallied from well back. As a juvenile he beat Sound of Cannons, the subsequent fourth in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (G1) and Lingfield Derby Trial. Pedigree gives mixed messages regarding this distance, but Pyledriver’s recent effort suggests he’ll appreciate it, and his dam is a Le Havre half to 2016 Grand Prix de Paris (G1) winner Mont Ormel (now Helene Charisma in Hong Kong). If he were with a higher-profile yard, Pyledriver might be half the price.
3rd - #1 Arthur’s Kingdom (6-1): Mogul’s stablemate figures to ensure a sensible pace, either by taking control with Frankie Dettori or keeping Papa Power honest. But the three-quarter brother to Joshua Tree has credentials as the Criterium de Saint-Cloud runner-up, and a Ballydoyle exacta could be in the offing.
4th - #3 Mohican Heights (5-1): Unbeaten Derby hopeful might benefit from this race having been absent since the Aug. 23 Stonehenge at Salisbury. Trainer David Simcock has a high opinion of this well-related son of Australia, and the market is pointing to him as the best alternative to Mogul. Not sure he can extend his record to 3-for-3 off a nearly 10-month holiday but respect his potential.
Race 5 - King’s Stand (10:35 a.m. ET)
1st - #2 Equilateral (12-1): Charlie Hills sprinter can be equal parts brilliant and maddening – a description that fits Equilateral no less than his odds-on stablemate Battaash. This might be the wrong place to take a stab against an overwhelming favorite, but the Juddmonte homebred is the only other entrant who has shown star quality when he’s right. Gelding him last fall might have been the making of him, or at least it appeared so when Equilateral dominated his Dubai Carnival debut in :56.60. Although overturned next time at Meydan, he tends to excel off a layoff, and accordingly could pose a challenge here. Sire Equiano was a two-time winner of this race, and his dam is a half-sister to Cityscape and Bated Breath who was runner-up in the 2012 edition. Both “uncles” did best when fully mature, so Equilateral could follow the pattern as a 5-year-old.
2nd - #1 Battaash (2-5): After arguing in vain why he could repel Blue Point for the last two years, I ought to be in the “finally he’ll get it done!” camp. If once bitten, twice shy, how about twice bitten, thrice paranoid? Obviously if Battaash runs the exact same race, and no one else steps up, the King’s Stand is at his mercy. But at the cramped price, I’m a little leery. That said, a spectatorless Ascot should help keep his nerves in check, and a calmer Battaash is always dangerous.
3rd - #8 Glass Slippers (5-1): The most logical insurance policy for a Battaash implosion, Glass Slippers left him far back when landing the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1). The Dream Ahead filly posted her third straight win in that Arc Day contest. If able to pick up right where she left off for trainer Kevin Ryan, Glass Slippers rates a threat, and her ground adaptability is a plus with an “unsettled” forecast.
4th - #10 Shades of Blue (20-1): The price differential with Glass Slippers isn’t justifiable if you focus on their first two meetings, when they traded decisions. Indeed, Shades of Blue was better fancied when Glass Slippers sprang a narrow upset in the Prix du Petit-Couvert (G3), but flopped in the Abbaye rubber match. Two reasons warrant giving her another shot: the Clive Cox filly has had a prep, albeit a messy seventh as the favorite versus males in the Palace House (G3), and now she adds blinkers. The equipment change might help her break more alertly and get herself in better position.
Race 6 - Duke of Cambridge (11:10 a.m. ET)
1st - #1 Magic Lily (10-1): Godolphin homebred is arguably better suited to this trip than the 1 1/4-mile Dahlia (G2), where she was a solid third to Terebellum (who takes on males in the Queen Anne) and Queen Power. Daughter of Derby star New Approach and Oaks queen Dancing Rain has been effective in the 8-9 furlong range, as illustrated during the Dubai Carnival when turning the Cape Verdi (G2)/Balanchine (G2) double. But her principal claims are based on her second to stablemate Barney Roy (who runs in Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s [G1]) two back in a fast Jebel Hatta (G1). Her three-pound penalty as a Group 2 winner might not be enough to weigh her down.
2nd - #8 Nazeef (3-1): Streaking Gosden filly made it four in a row in her stakes debut last out in Kempton’s Snowdrop, collaring classic winner Billesdon Brook (who runs in the Queen Anne). Sheikh Hamdan’s colorbearer is proven over a straight course too, having romped in a handicap down Newmarket’s Rowley Mile last fall. This represents another test, though, and she’s short enough in the circumstances.
3rd - #6 Lavender’s Blue (7-1): Sea the Stars filly was last seen finishing fourth in the Sun Chariot (G1), one spot behind Iridessa, the next-out Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner. Lavender’s Blue was previously 2-for-2 at a mile, notably upsetting a useful group in the Atalanta (G3). Among her beaten rivals was subpar favorite Jubiloso, who’s struck me so far as more of a 7-furlong type than one wanting a stiff mile.
4th - #7 Miss O Connor (4-1): Haggas trainee made it 4-for-4 with a victory in the Oct. 26 Prix Perth (G3) over males, including Plumatic (who runs in the Queen Anne). All of her appearances have come on gradations of soft to heavy, and she’d appreciate it if the heavens open up by Tuesday afternoon.