Spot plays for Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Day at Keeneland
Even with the unfortunate scratch of Group-1 winning Euro invader Wuheida, Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) remains an outstanding race, aesthetically and betting-wise.
The two fillies that intrigue me most are #2 PROCTOR'S LEDGE (9-2) and #3 DADDYS LIL DARLING (20-1). The former comes in off back-to-back wins in Saratoga's two main races for sophomore fillies on the grass -- the Lake George (G3) and Lake Placid (G2) -- which also happened to be her first two outings with Lasix. She's undoubtedly in peak form and the good news is that her price Saturday will probably be somewhere in the middle of the 6-1 and 2-1 on offer in those two races at the Spa. She's far better than she was in her last visit here in April, when out-finished by the more experienced La Coronel and Dream Dancing in the Appalachian (G3).
Daddys Lil Darling finally showed her best stuff on grass taking the Dueling Grounds Oaks by more than four lengths last time. Obviously going great at the moment, working well, and perhaps will offer an attractive price in the upper single digits.
Here are other spot plays on the Keeneland program:
#7 TAKEOFF (10-1) was likely in need of a race when closing only modestly in a Kentucky Downs sprint last month. Beat subsequent American Turf (G2) scorer Arklow in his maiden score and ran third in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds last winter and can move forward here.
#5 MAXIMIZE (6-1) cost $535K at auction last March, is by 11% debut sire Bodemeister, and is out of a dam whose only other foal to race won at first asking. Cox barn has been a little frosty so far this meet, but he and Geroux are generally a potent combo.
Stakes winner #5 PERFECT WIFE (10-1) was in the wrong spot -- running long on turf -- in her first race back from a long spell at the tail-end of the Saratoga meet. Feast-or-famine type won on debut over this track and distance and a better run expected in this soft race for the class level.
#5 BEE JERSEY (7-2) showed enough last winter at Dubai to suggest he'll be very competitive in his debut for Steve Asmussen. Clear second to Thunder Snow in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) two back.
(Adam Coglianese Photography)