Courtesy of Becky Johnston
Two days and two wins for the Americans. What a great stroke of public relations on Wesley Ward’s part. Deciding to take the journey and then travelling to a small track like River Downs to work the horses in between races over a holiday weekend. Then you have John Velasquez doing a beautiful job of representing us and deputizing for Rene Douglas.
Could the meet get better for the Americans? Why yes, I believe it could.
Royal Ascot Day Three Preview
Group 2 Norfolk Stakes for two-year-olds
Yogaroo (USA) (Bring The Heat (USA) – Harper N Abbey (USA) by Outflanker (USA) will go postward in tomorrow’s first contest to kick off the third day of Royal Ascot. The chestnut gelding broke his maiden at Keeneland at four and half furlongs after running second in a two-furlong event at Gulfstream Park. He will stretch out to five furlongs and with In Excess (IRE) on the top and Danzig on the bottom, says turf won’t be a problem.
Yogaroo’s second dam was the brilliantly fast grey filly Meafara who twice ran a desperate second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, carving out blazing fractions both in 1992 and 1993.
1993 Breeders’ Cup Sprint
She won 10 of 17 starts and retired after taking the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood in 1993. If Yogaroo can carry Meafara’s heart and determination, the Americans Ward and Velasquez will be striking at a 75% clip.
Yogaroo is going to face stiff competition with the favorite Monsieur Chevalier (IRE) (Chevalier (IRE) – Blue Holly (IRE) by Blues Traveller (IRE), who races for trainer Richard Hannon and rider Richard Hughes.
American-bred Moran Gra (Rahy – Super Supreme (IND) by Zafonic) wheels back from Tuesday’s Group 2 Coventry Stakes where he ran fourth to Canford Cliffs for trainer Joanna Morgan and switches riders from Kevin Manning to Ted Durcan. The Irish-bred Star Rover (Camaco (UK) – Charlene Lacy (IRE) by Pips Pride (UK) ran sixth behind Strike The Tiger in the Windsor Castle Stakes also run yesterday. He is trained by David Evans and ridden by John Egan. Moran Gra looks to be the more impressive of the two. This is Star Rover’s seventh start of the year.
Sheikh Maktoum’s Tawaabb (UK) (Kyllachy (UK) – Penmayne (UK) by Inchinor (UK) has targeted this race and the Mick Channon trainee will have the services of top rider, Frankie Dettori.
Diamond Johnny G (USA) makes his first start for successful Royal Ascot connections. Here Now and Why (IRE) has logged two wins from three starts and Kingdom of Light (UK) won in his second start at Haydock.
Nosedive (USA) runs for trainer William Haggas, who is looking for a starter in this race rather than be left behind the gate as he was today. Radiohead (USA) is by the 2001 winner of this race, Johannesburg (USA) and won his last start at odds of 1/9.
Reignier (UK) will face a tough task today. Running Mate (IRE) is winless thus far, but must trust that trainer John Gosden believes he has a chance.
This race was first run in 1834 and the influential sire Hyperion won it in 1932.
My Picks: Yogaroo, Monsieur Chevalier, Tawaabb
Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes for three-year-old fillies
The 12-furlong affair, first run in 1919, has a field of 10 that is short on experience.
Flying Cloud (IRE) (Storming Home (UK) – Criquette (UK) by Shirley Heights (UK) has done nothing wrong, winning both her starts in France at 10 furlongs. Godolphin sends this filly out for new trainer Saeed bin Suroor and Dettori has the mount.
The enigmatic stallion Storming Home was known as much for his antics as his race record, never more so than the 2003 Arlington Million when he ducked out sending Gary Stevens to the hospital in what was an impressive win only to be disqualified.
Leocorno (IRE) (Pivotal – Highland Gift (IRE) by Generous (IRE) also has a perfect record in two starts at Doncaster and Sandown for Ballymacoll Stud and Sir Michael Stoute. Ryan Moore rides.
Flame of Gibraltar (IRE) (Rock of Gilbrator (IRE) – Spirit of Tara (IRE) by Sadler’s Wells (USA) won her maiden in her last start. She hasn’t faced this level but trainer Henry Cecil is bound to have a good showing somewhere and it might as well be with this 900,000 Euro purchase from the Goff’s sale in 2007. She will be ridden by jockey Tom Queally.
Anice Stellato (IRE) has one win at seven furlongs. Dubai Dolly (UK) has the most starts with six but only one win on polytrack. July Jasmine (USA) is by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker with money-rider Mick Kinane.
Mooakada (IRE) is one of two daughters of Montjeu in the field with Take The Hint (UK) being the second. Take The Hint is the better of the two and could take this prize in her own right, having won two of three races.
Totally Devoted (USA) goes to post for the unusually quiet Ballydoyle team and rider Johnny Murtagh. The daughter of Seeking the Gold has yet to win, but has run her last two against Group 3 and Group 1 competition.
Uvinza (UK) has been in the money three times from five starts but probably doesn’t want any part of 12 furlongs.
My Picks: Flying Cloud, Leocorno, Flame of Gibraltar
Group 1 Gold Cup for four-year-olds and up
History and 20 furlongs await Ballydoyle’s Yeats (IRE) (Sadler’s Wells (USA) – Lyndonville (IRE) by Top Ville). He could become the first horse to win the Gold Cup four times. His first start this year was a disappointment, sixth by 32, on yielding ground at Navan. If the rain holds off, it looks like a race between him and his old nemesis and Gold Cup runner-up each of the last two years Geordieland (FR) (Johann Quatz (FR) – Aerdee (FR) by Highest Honor (FR).
2008 Gold Cup
Aidan O’Brien trains Yeats with Johnny Murtagh up while Geordieland goes for trainer Jamie Osborne with Shane Kelly aboard. Two horses racing into their eight-year-old seasons makes one wonder what horses could do if not rushed off to stud. The sport needs heroes like these.
Patkai (IRE) (Indian Ridge (UK) – Olympienne (IRE) by Sadler’s Wells (USA) has been odds-on in his last three starts but has only one win. That win was over this course at two miles for trainer Sir Michael Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore. Geordieland defeated him by five lengths last out in a Group 2 at Sandown. He has never run this far.
Possibly nothing would please Godolphin more than to beat their rival in this contest, but Eastern Anthen (IRE) and Sagara (USA) are probably not up to the task. The latter is interestingly named as the record holder that Yeats tied last year with his third consecutive Gold Cup win is Sagaro, who won the race from 1975-1977.
Godolphin’s third entrant is Veracity (UK) (Lomitas (UK) – Vituisa (UK) by Bering (UK) is probably their best chance with Dettori aboard.
I doubt Centennial (IRE) will want any part of the distance, Hindu Kush (IRE) is probably not at this level and it would be cruel fate if former stablemate Washington Irving (IRE) were to deny Yeats history.
My Picks: Yeats, Geordieland, Patkai
The other races:
The Britannia Heritage Handicap at one mile for three-year-olds with 30 entrants could be a nightmare trip for some. I’ll take Shampagne, Desert Creek and Roman Republic.
The Hampton Court Stakes at 10 furlongs is next. Ra Junior gets back to the grass, Palavicini is consistent and Big Bound has run well against better.
King George V Stakes at 10 furlongs for three-year-olds with a field of 19. Barwell Bridge has been very consistent, Johann Zoffany has won his last two and Aidan O’Brien’s son makes his Royal Ascot riding debut. Chiberta King comes from the Balding stable and should be respected.