Welcome to Royal Ascot, one of the most anticipated week-long events of the racing season! With the United States having winners at the meet the past few years, the British race meet has garnered more attention from this side of the pond from horsemen and fans alike, especially after Tepin’s amazing win in the Queen Anne Stakes last year.
This year NBC Sports makes it even easier to tune in with the channel airing the races from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. E.T. every day of the meet (June 20-24). Each Royal Ascot race day starts with the Royal Procession, as the royal family arrives at the track and everyone tries to guess what color outfit the Queen will wear every day.
The Queen has multiple horses running in this year’s Royal Ascot meet, giving her fans much to cheer for, but in some cases horses with U.S. ties will be squaring off against the Queen’s entries. Here is a list of both the U.S.-based horses who shipped over for the meet, and some of the U.S.-connected horses running at Royal Ascot this week.
Note: Many of the five-day meet’s entries were not yet final as of June 18 so it is possible some horses go into different races or scratch altogether, though every U.S.-based runner is already in the country, so it’s doubtful they will not run at all.
The action for U.S. fans starts fast and furious on Tuesday with two of the top horses in the U.S. turf mile division taking on Europe in the Queen Anne, the first Royal Ascot race of the week. Won last year by Tepin, who was the first U.S.-based horse to win the race, American Patriot and Miss Temple City both have something in common as the last two winners of the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland Race Course. American Patriot won that race in his last start, while Miss Temple City is making her first 2017 start in this race after various reasons kept her from starting earlier this year.
American Patriot won his first Grade 1 race in the Maker’s 46 Mile in April and seems to be getting better with age. The 4-year-old was a graded stakes winner last year and Grade 1-placed, but he also put in a few bad races throughout the year, while he’s won both his 2017 starts. He does have a bit of a disadvantage here as he’ll be experiencing a straight track mile for the first time while running the opposite way of what he’s used to, but Tepin showed last year that’s not much of a problem for really good horses.
This will be Miss Temple City’s third trip to Royal Ascot; she’s taken on the girls the last two trips and finished fourth each time but looks to better that performance against the boys here. She has proven she can stick with males in North America, winning both the Maker’s 46 and the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland last year. Miss Temple City has experienced running on a straight track before, so don’t worry about that if you’re thinking of betting on her.
One other face U.S. fans may recognize in this race is Deauville. Deauville won last year’s edition of the Belmont Derby as a 3-year-old before finishing a very close third in the Arlington Million against older horses a month later. Deauville hasn’t run a race at a mile since he was 2 years old but did win two races at seven furlongs that year.
U.S. trainer Wesley Ward is known for his success with 2-year-olds at Royal Ascot, and Arawak is his first runner of the week in the Coventry Stakes, the second race on Tuesday’s card. A son of top sire Uncle Mo, Arawak won his debut less than a month ago on dirt by seven lengths. But don’t let the dirt factor turn you off of the colt. Ward runners usually debut on dirt (or synthetic surfaces) before coming to Royal Ascot, and it hasn’t hurt them, with his top 2-year-olds Acapulco, Hootenanny, No Nay Never, and Lady Aurelia all running on the surface in the months before shipping to England.
The U.S.-based Lady Aurelia was the champion 2-year-old filly in Europe last year and returns to the continent for the first time this year in the King’s Stand Stakes against older horses as the third race on the card on Tuesday. Lady Aurelia made her 3-year-old debut at Keeneland in April when beating older mares in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes as a warm-up for Royal Ascot.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Lancaster Bomber will be making an appearance at Royal Ascot this week in the St James’s Palace Stakes against a field that includes the infamous Thunder Snow. Lancaster Bomber has run in two one-mile classics in Europe this year, finishing fourth and fifth to stablemate Churchill, who is also in this race.
This will be Thunder Snow’s second start back since his rodeo antics in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands in May. He ran exactly three weeks after that in a totally professional manner, finishing second to Churchill in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, and he’ll be running at the same distance in this race.
Wesley Ward’s third assault on Royal Ascot comes at the end of Day 1 in the Windsor Castle Stakes for 2-year-olds. He’s sending out fillies Elizabeth Darcy and Nootka Sound to take on colts for the first time with both fillies only having one run each under their belts. Both won those debuts, and Nootka Sound will be following the dirt-to-turf plan talked about above. Elizabeth Darcy broke her maiden by 7 ¾ lengths on the turf last month at five furlongs, the same distance as this race.
If you’re a fan of champion Honor Code, you’ll love Declarationofpeace, who is his half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Bought for $2.6 million as a weanling (a horse under a year who has been weaned from its mother), Declarationofpeace broke his maiden by six lengths in his last start for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
The U.S.’s first entries on Wednesday’s card are in the second race of the day, the Queen Mary Stakes. Not surprisingly for a 2-year-old race, Wesley Ward has two entered with Fairyland and Happy Like a Fool. Both were fancy winners in Keeneland’s 2-year-old races in April, with Fairyland winning the first 2-year-old race of the meet by 3 ¼ lengths and Happy Like a Fool winning by four lengths two days later. While Fairyland is entered here, Ward is eying running her in the Albany Stakes on Friday but is leaving it up to the owners (the Coolmore partnership) to decide.
Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes doesn’t have any U.S.-based runners but it does have two Breeders’ Cup winners entered. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel holds entries for both this race and the Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday, a race he finished second in last year. Highland Reel is coming into this race off a win on June 2 in the Coronation Cup. Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust also hold entries in both races as well. She finished last in her 4-year-old debut last month but it could be argued she just needed the race to get fit as she only finished three lengths behind the winner.
The fourth place finisher of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, Ulysses is fairly lightly raced with only eight starts. He’ll be making his first trip to Ascot here for the Prince of Wales’s but is coming in off a win over Deauville at the end of April at the same 1 ¼ mile distance as the Prince of Wales’s.
Another Scat Daddy daughter, Con Te Partiro, is heading over to Royal Ascot for the Sandringham Handicap for Wesley Ward. A 3-year-old filly, Con Te Partiro has been a nice stakes horse in her own right, winning a 2-year-old stakes at Saratoga Race Course last year and finishing second in one at Santa Anita. She took on some tough fillies in her seasonal debut this year and finished fourth in the Soaring Softly Stakes at Belmont Park last month.
Another day, another Ward entry to start the races. Keeneland maiden winner McErin is being touted as one of the favorites for the Norfolk Stakes, the first race of the card. McErin also finished third in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week in his last start.
A Grade 1 winner at Woodbine, England-based Sheikhzayedroad will line up in one of the most important races of the week, the Ascot Gold Cup. An 8-year-old, Sheikhzayedroad has been around the world from England to Canada to Dubai so he’s a very well-traveled veteran. He’s finished third in his last two outings after two wins at the end of last season so it looks like he is still in fine form for this two-and-a-half mile battle.
The 2-year-old fillies kick off Friday’s card in the Albany Stakes and Wesley Ward has two in the race. Fairyland was talked about above as she has an entry for the Queen Mary Stakes as well, though Ward is hoping to run her here. His other entry is Princess Peggy, who won her debut late last month by 5 ¼ lengths at Belmont Park on the dirt. She is owned by the famous Stonestreet Stables, who also co-owns Lady Aurelia.
A lightly raced 3-year-old, Bound For Nowhere won his career debut in January by six lengths and a Keeneland allowance by 4 ½ lengths on the turf. He is making a big step up here at Royal Ascot, taking on some highly touted sprinters in the Commonwealth Cup, but if he can live up to the talent he’s shown early in his 3-year-old season he could make some noise in this race.
Mark Casse won at Royal Ascot last year with Tepin in an atmosphere his wife described as “the Kentucky Derby on steroids” and he’s back again to try and get another win this year in the Coronation Stakes. La Coronel has proved to be one of the top U.S. 3-year-old turf fillies this year, if not the best one, with two straight wins coming into this race. Her only bad start on turf (her debut was on dirt and she switched to turf after that) was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last season and she’s won four of her five other starts on the surface with a close second in her 3-year-old debut earlier this year in her other non-winning effort.
The Queen’s biggest chance of the week to win a race may come in the Hardwicke Stakes, a race she won last year. Her horse Dartmouth, who finished second in the Canadian International at Woodbine last year, won this race by a head over Highland Reel in 2016 and is coming into this race with a win under his belt in his only 2017 start.
Two years after Wes Welker’s Undrafted won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Long On Value looks to become the second U.S.-based horse to take home the race’s trophy in three years. Long On Value has been running at the graded stakes level since he was two and won his first graded stakes in 2014 as a 4-year-old but seems to have stepped up his sprinting game even more this year. The 6-year-old traveled to Dubai for the Al Quoz Sprint in March and was just nosed out when racing at the same distance as the Diamond Jubilee to show that he can stick with some of the best turf sprinters around.
A 2-year-old Royal Ascot winner when with Wesley Ward, Acapulco will make her second start for new trainer Aidan O’Brien if she runs in this race. She won her first start for O’Brien in Ireland last month by half a length and while having another passenger aboard, as she is pregnant to leading stallion Galileo. A fair amount of mares still race in their early pregnancies and some even believe it helps them focus better when racing.