One of my absolute favorite races of all time is the 2011 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes because it showed the value of speed figures--even on turf. For past performances and selections of this year's QE2 and all the races at Keeneland, visit the Blood Horse shop.
The QE2 (on this side of the pond) is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for three-year-old fillies, and Winter Memories entered the 2011 edition of the race as the favorite not only for it but also of race fans everywhere.
Her electrifying, come-from-behind style, had made many fans of hers following Lake George and Garden City Stakes wins that sandwiched a fourth-place finish to eventual Grade 1 winner Hungry Island in the Lake Placid. She entered the QE2 having won four of five in 2011 and six of eight in her career with the only other loss coming when second to Bobby Flay's More Than Real in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Clearly, this was a filly whose class could handle the QE2 field, but could her speed? The numbers said no, and the results agreed.
Winter Memories' had earned a 105 Brisnet Speed Rating in the aforementioned Breeders' Cup race, but as a three-year-old the mid 90s appeared to be her ceiling, and her lone Grade 1 win earned a light 87 Speed Rating.
A Speed rating in the mid 90s might have won the QE2, but she was one of several in the eight-horse field could do that. A 100 seemed more likely to win it but less likely that it'd be Winter Memories who did it. As such, I thought her fair odds to win the race were 9-to-1 (10% chance). As it turns out she was less than a fourth those odds at 7-to-5--a clear case of having to bet against a horse no matter how much the public loved her.
I was bullish in my disdain for her chances, saying that if she won I'd never mention Speed Ratings again. She was last early and passed half the field to get into contention turning for home but stalled in fourth. Irish invader Together won and paid a juicy $11.20 and future Grade 1 star Marketing Mix completed a 42-to-1 exacta with a runner-up finish at 10.9-to-1.
Winter Memories returned as a four-year-old, winning two of three races, including the Grade 1 Diana to end her career. She achieved a 100+ Speed Rating in all three of those starts, but that figures given the extra development, and it doesn't change the fact that she was a bad bet to do so at 7-to-5 7-9 months earlier.
That brings us to this year's QE2, and while there is no obvious throw out who's too slow at a short price, there are several in here who will take too much money off the races they won versus the speed they've gone. For Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances of this race and all racing at Keeneland, visit the Blood Horse shop.
The lone Grade 1 winner in the field is Alterite, a Group 1-placed in Europe filly who won her American debut in the Garden City, and unlike Winter Memories coming out of that race into this one two years ago, Alterite has Speed Ratings that fit among most of these, but like Winter Memories, they're still not good enough to warrant taking a short price.
Say is interesting because of the similarities to Together, who won this race two years ago after making her American debut against elder females in the First Lady. Like Together, Say didn't run much there and wheels back in a week. Based on the Brisnet.com Class Ratings, Say fits with these on her Group 1-placed form, and while her 88 Speed Rating in the First Lady won't win this, she did make a nifty move on the backstretch before calling it a day suggesting some current form.
By far the most interesting entrants in here are on the outside with #8 Leigh Court and #9 I'm Already Sexy. The former has a Class Ratings edge over all but Say while the latter is the only filly with a 100+ Speed Rating in the field, and she's done it twice! At 10- and 8-to-1, respectively, these two are must uses.
In fact, I think the price is right on all three that I'm not looking any further. It's a gamble because yes, horses like Alterite and any of the other 5 are capable of winning this race. I.e., no one will be shocked if Kitten's Dumplings wins, but she's less likely to me than the three I like most but will be among the favorites. I'm not interested in betting horses like that.
CONTEST RESULTS AND A NEW ONE
We had a three-way tie for first in my Press Your Luck-inspired contest last week with Monarchos Matt (Power Broker), Chare889 (No Jet Lag), and Plodboy Phil (Beertent Baby). If you won, please e-mail Blood Horse and ask to get in touch with me. I will round up on the $100 prize and pay you each $34 instead of $33.34.
As for this week's contest we'll focus on the QE2 since that's the only race I discussed. The goal is to pick the order of finish for the QE2 without being wrong. You can go as deep as you want, but if you miss a position then you lose no matter what.
For instance, let's say you pick 1. Caroline Thomas, 2. Say, and 3. I'm Already Sexy and someone else picks 1. Caroline Thomas, 2. Say, and that's it. If the order of finish is Caroline Thomas-Say-Leigh Court then the second person would win because the first person lost by having I'm Already Sexy in third.
You can ADD to your order if someone else does the same picks as you, but you cannot CHANGE your picks. I.e., if you pick SAY and that's it and a bunch of other people pick Say, and you want to add to it then you can post again with SAY in first and whomever you want in second (third, fourth, etc.).
$100 to the winner unless someone gives out the cold superfecta. Then you get $200. I'll give $1,000 if someone gives out the exact order of finish (at least seven must start).
Good luck, and for Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances to help you handicap all of Keeneland's races, visit the Blood Horse store.