Will Treve Rebound at Royal Ascot?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

There is no race meet in the world quite like Royal Ascot. The five-day, thirty-race festival features some of the highest-class racing in all of Europe, and the participation of top jockeys, trainers, and owners is spectacular. The quality of the horses is also unquestionable, with names like Frankel and Black Caviar thrilling audiences with breathtaking performances in recent years.

This year’s Royal Ascot meet began with a bang earlier today, with the top-notch miler Toronado tenaciously defeating 2013 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) and Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Verrazano in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I). Later on the card, the remarkable Sole Power won the group I King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) for a second consecutive year; Kingman defeated Night of Thunder and Outstrip in the prestigious St James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I); and the American-based two-year-old Hootenanny—with Victor Espinoza in the saddle for trainer Wesley Ward—scored a decisive triumph over twenty-two rivals in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

But as spectacular as the opening day of the meet may have been, the second day promises to be even better. The third race on the card is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Eng-I), a race that features several names that will be familiar to American racing fans. Drawing posts six, seven, and eight in an eight-horse field are Dank, winner of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I); The Fugue, runner-up in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) and third in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I); and Magician, winner of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I). Also in the race is Treve, winner of the 2013 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). Needless to say, this is an extremely talented field!

The favorite among the various British bookmakers is Treve, who is being offered at odds between 4/7 and 8/11. However, the four-year-old filly—who went unbeaten in her first five starts—lost her perfect record in her 2014 debut, losing by a neck to Cirrus des Aigles in the Prix Ganay (Fr-I) at Longchamp. The performance was by no means a poor one, coming over very soft ground that probably favored Cirrus des Aigles, but it also wasn’t up to Treve’s usual high standards. She’ll likely be sharper in her second start of the season, but the talent of her rivals is exceptional, and in making her first start outside of France, Treve could very well be vulnerable to defeat. This is not to say that Treve will lose—personally, I think she will win—but the opportunity for value exists if she is heavily bet in the American pools, so it might be worth supporting her well-credentialed rivals if they offer enticing odds.

The most logical candidate to pull off an upset is Magician, who has three starts under his belt already this year, including a narrow victory over Parish Hall in the Mooresbridge Stakes (Ire-III) at the Curragh on May 5th. Last time out, he finished second by 1 ¼ lengths behind Noble Mission in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-I), although the very soft conditions that day may have contributed to his defeat. He should get a firmer course tomorrow, and that should increase his chances substantially.

Dank and The Fugue have both proven themselves to be very capable performers, especially The Fugue, who is a four-time group I winner in England and Ireland. Both fillies began their 2014 campaigns in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on March 29th, in which Dank finished a respectable third while The Fugue failed to fire and came home eleventh. Neither filly has raced since then, but while their respective finishes in Dubai suggest that Dank is in better form, The Fugue’s overall record—coupled with the fact that she has rebounded well from sub-par efforts in the past—leads me to side with The Fugue over Dank in this spot.

But can The Fugue beat Magician? That’s a tougher question. The Fugue and Magician have met once in the past, with Magician triumphing by a half-length over the filly in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I). At the time, many believed that The Fugue would have beaten Magician with a better trip, and keeping in mind that the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is just ten furlongs—a distance over which The Fugue has had great success—I believe The Fugue can get the better of Magician tomorrow.

There’s one other horse I’d like to mention, and that is Mukhadram. While finishing second in this race last year, he defeated The Fugue (who finished third) by 3 ¼ lengths, and while finishing third in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) 2 ½ weeks later, he defeated her by an even more decisive 9 ¼ lengths. Mukhadram opened his 2014 season with a strong runner-up effort behind African Story in the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), and while he may not be as well known in the United States as Treve, Magician, Dank, and The Fugue, that may mean that he will offer exceptional odds in the American pools.

So in essence, I believe that Treve is capable of returning to top form on the second day of Royal Ascot, with Mukhadram and The Fugue rounding out the top three. Even if Treve ends up as a heavy favorite, the odds on Mukhadram should be high enough to make the exacta an intriguing possibility. However, should Mukhadram go off at 10-1 or higher—and I believe he will—that is more than fair value on a very talented horse that is being quoted at 6-1 by many of the British bookmakers.

But regardless of post-time odds and opportunity for value, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes promises to be one of the highlights of the Royal Ascot meet, and possibly one of the highlights of the entire racing season. Be sure to tune in if you can!

24 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Ranagulzion

Treve is too classy to oppose ...Dank to follow her home.

18 Jun 2014 12:23 AM
Pedigree Ann

Notice that the best Euro/Brit/Irish mares run with the guys if they are of the top class and the conditions suit? And beat them when they are best? Not just once a year, but as part of their usual campaigns?

18 Jun 2014 5:48 AM
Pedigree Ann

To continue the thought from the last blog, Toronado's win was easier than it sounds; it was a measured 3/4 length, as he had come from behind and swallowed Verrazano in a few strides or so.

Folks on the telly were wondering if Verrazano wanted more distance than a mile, since he seemed a bit one-paced. Talk is of the Irish Champion S at 10f.

I will take a flyer on the Royal Hunt Cup with Steeler. He was a top-class 2yo, winning the Royal Lodge S (G2), etc., but missed his entire 3yo season. They brought him back in Dubai and he ran mid-pack in a couple of group races, so he has some race-fitness and on this big drop in class, he might find himself again. We Yanks really don't know how to handicap this sort of race, where the high-weight has 141 and the low weight 122 (and those that would have had lower weights were 'balloted out' of the race entirely). So why not take a horse named for my brother's favorite football team? Each way, of course.

18 Jun 2014 6:09 AM
JerseyBoy

In the Racing Post Ratings, Treve is ranked 8 lbs above The Fugue and at least 11 lbs above Magician and the rest.

That makes it an unbettable race for me.

I prefer Mustajeeb each-way, in the Jersey Stakes.

18 Jun 2014 8:19 AM
-Keelerman

Jersey Boy;

Nice call on Mustajeeb in the Jersey Stakes!

18 Jun 2014 9:36 AM
Sam Santschi

Hey Keelerman,

17-1 right now on Muk...count me in although Treve should romp.

18 Jun 2014 10:27 AM
JerseyBoy

Thank you, Keelerman.

My bet yesterday, The Wow Signal, also won.

I pick one or two races and ignore the rest.

I do fairly well.

18 Jun 2014 10:33 AM
English Pete

Keelerman well done. The Fugue won easily. Personally I backed Magician each way, and laid Treve on the exchanges. Treve not the same without last year's age allowance.

Pedigree Ann, good luck on Steeler. I've gone for Gabriel's Kaka, hoping they go too fast early and he picks them up at the death.

18 Jun 2014 10:56 AM
mz

Looks like Coolmore Australia will be very very happy having decided to keep working with Starspangledbanner.  

He's making the most of his limited opportunities, isn't he?  

Good on him.

I feel somewhat upset about Treve.  Although a couple of placings in graded stakes behind some really good horses doesn't sound too shabby.

On with the Ward 2yo's!

18 Jun 2014 11:56 AM
-Keelerman

Thanks, English Pete! I was happy to see The Fugue perform so well. She's always been a favorite of mine!

Pedigree Ann, nice try with Steeler in the Royal Hunt Cup! It looks like he held for third place at 37-1 in the American pool. Not bad in a thirty-three horse field!

18 Jun 2014 12:15 PM
Sam Santschi

As Muk's odds plummeted I sat it out...Pedigree Ann--nice call on Steeler.  Thanks!  It took the sting out of my blunders yesterday.

18 Jun 2014 1:51 PM
Pedigree Ann

Good calls have been all over the place. Hope they continue.

In the Tercentenary, the old Hampton Court S renamed last year to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the course, I lean toward Barley Mow. He didn't seem to run that well on the soft at Goodwood, but his win at Newmarket at the distance on good-to-firm gives him a good shot here.

19 Jun 2014 6:09 AM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

Good luck with Barley Mow! My top selection for the day is Brown Panther in the Ascot Gold Cup. I see that Leading Light is the heavy favorite at under even money, but I'm not sure the 2 1/2-mile distance is ideal for him. I much prefer the chances of Brown Panther, who has two good prep runs under his belt and has demonstrated excellent form at extended distances in the past. Granted, he has yet to run farther than two miles, but I believe he has sufficient stamina reserves to stay on strongly in the final half-mile.

I know Estimate won this race last year, but the fact that she didn't have a prep race, and that she dealt with a minor leg issue during the winter, makes me wonder if she won't be up to her best today. Altano is another obvious contender, given that he has won at 2 1/2 miles in the past, but his best races have come over softer ground than he will find today.

Who do you like in the Ascot Gold Cup?

19 Jun 2014 10:01 AM
JerseyBoy

Keelerman:

INCHILA is drawn wide and has less than a 2-week break from her last start.

I will make this an exception and back her in spite of the wide draw.

Hopefully, Jamie Spencer will drop her to last, then produce one of his kamikaze finishes.

19 Jun 2014 10:24 AM
Pedigree Ann

I am steamed. The winner came over on my horse Barley Mow, who was second at the time and whose rider had to snatch up to avoid running into him. In the US I think the winner would have been DQ'd; not that it would do anything for me, since my horse lost the photo for fourth, but I feel the idea that a rider can drop his horse down to the rail and take another horse's lane without being clear, and not a thing is done about it, is dangerous. Jamie Spencer was astonished that the same kind of tactic got his horse DQ'd and he himself got days in the Arlington Classic, as I recall.

19 Jun 2014 10:29 AM
Pedigree Ann

Feel better now with a place bet on Criteria coming good.

19 Jun 2014 10:52 AM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

I thought the same thing! I was surprised that there wasn't an inquiry or a rider's objection. I definitely think the incident cost Barley Mow a placing or two, and that a disqualification was probably warranted.

19 Jun 2014 11:01 AM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

Great job with Criteria!

19 Jun 2014 11:02 AM
Pedigree Ann

What a great race the Gold Cup was! Why don't people like staying races over here? They can be as exciting as any sprint. Notice that mares finished second and third?

19 Jun 2014 11:43 AM
Pedigree Ann

At the last minute, I decided to try getting six horses for the price of one, bet #24+ (the field) to win at 10 to 1 and one of them won! Just $2, but at least this makes up for my account not being funded yesterday so that I couldn't get a bet down on Steeler.

19 Jun 2014 12:15 PM
Pedigree Ann

Taking another flyer on Swivel in the last. If you drop out the Musselborough form (maybe he hates the long trailer ride up to Scotland), and he fits. Drops weight and they get some more off using an apprentice.

19 Jun 2014 12:37 PM
JerseyBoy

Keelerman:

I wrote about Inchila:

“Hopefully, Jamie Spencer will drop her to last, then produce one of his kamikaze finishes”

He did. But he nearly killed the horse.

This is the trip report from the Sporting Life:

“Held up towards rear, pushed along when not clear run and injured over 2f out, pulled up and dismounted”.

The man is brilliant but reckless.

19 Jun 2014 5:53 PM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman - we've known that about Spencer for many a year.

As it turned out, the rider of Cannock Chase will get two days for reckless riding for his foul of Barley Mow. Not that this penalty would discourage a jock from doing the same thing when he's riding in a race with a decent purse like those at Royal Ascot. That's my problem with the British way - the owners and trainers who employ the jocks who use these tactics don't have an incentive to find somebody who won't put other horses and jocks in danger.

20 Jun 2014 4:06 AM
Pedigree Ann

Kicking myself for being scared off of Contributer in the second today because of his outside post. Jock got him over to the 3-path at the back just fine, and he blasted down the stretch to beat the favorite owned by The Queen. Only 9/1 in GB but 14/1 on Twinspires. Blast.

20 Jun 2014 10:15 AM

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