Horses to Know at the 2019 Royal Ascot Meet

Racing
Imprimis (yellow jockey silks, center) and Bound for Nowhere (black jockey silks, right), the 1-2 finishers in the Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in April, are targeting this week’s Royal Ascot meeting in England. (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

One of the biggest weeks in international racing is upon us, with the 2019 Royal Ascot meet starting on Tuesday. Since United States runners have made a big splash at the meet in recent years, it’s turned into a must-see event on the racing calendar, and NBC Sports will be helping you with that. The channel will be airing all five days of the Roya Ascot meet, starting at 8:30a.m. ET on June 18 (click here for the full schedule). Every day the meet will start with Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Procession promptly at 9 a.m. ET.

The Queen has multiple horses at Royal Ascot and is searching for her first win since Dartmouth's victory in the Hardwicke Stakes in 2016, but she will be facing some horses with U.S. ties in those races, including a string from the barn of Wesley Ward, who has enjoyed great success at Royal Ascot over the past decade. Without further ado, here are some of the horses with U.S. ties and also some information on the Queen’s entries over the five days of the meet.

Note: Many of the five-day meet’s entries were not yet final as of June 16, 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.


Tuesday, June 18

Queen Anne Stakes

Accidental Agent pulled off a 33-1 shocker in the Queen Anne last year and returns this year to try again in this “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He hasn’t won in three starts since the victory last year but was given a lengthy break after a disappointing finish in a race last September. He seems to have come back well from that and finished third behind fellow Queen Anne entrant Mustashry in the Lockinge Stakes in his only start this year.

King’s Stand Stakes

An exciting edition of the King’s Stand is led by Blue Point, the winner of March’s Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored By Azizi Developments. Blue Point has won his three starts this year by a combined 9 ¼ lengths and will be looking to defend last year’s King’s Stand victory here. This is his third start at Royal Ascot after finishing third in the Commonwealth Cup in 2017 and the horse just seems to be getting better with age.

Imprimis (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Last year’s King’s Stand second Battaash is looking to reverse the results on Blue Point in this year’s edition. The 5-year-old gelding is coming into this race off an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Temple Stakes after ending last year with a pair of fourth-place finishes. This will be his third appearance at Royal Ascot, with last year’s second to Blue Point his best finish so far.

U.S.-based Imprimis is running in the King’s Stand off a two-month break following his win in the Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in April. The 5-year-old gelding has won both his starts this year and beat Bound for Nowhere in the Shakertown. That runner finished third by only three quarters of a length in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot last year. Imprimis is also entered in Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday but it is extremely likely we won’t see him run in that race as he was declared for the King’s Stand in the final entries.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint runner Sergei Prokofiev will be taking on older horses here, but it won’t be his first time doing so. Both starts this year have been against older horses, with the Scat Daddy colt winning the Cork Stakes to start off his year before finishing fourth last out. The colt is extremely experienced for a 3-year-old with 10 starts already, winning four of them and finishing off the board only four times in his career.

St James’s Palace Stakes

Last year’s European Champion 2-year-old colt Too Darn Hot is out of a mare Americans are familiar with in Dar Re Mi, who was third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf and first in the 2010 Dubai Sheema Classic Sponsored by Guangsha Group for Too Darn Hot’s trainer John Gosden. The 3-year-old colt was undefeated last year and has shown talent this year, but hasn’t been able to break through for a win. After a pair of seconds last month, he is hoping the third time is the charm in the St James’s Palace. His full sister Lah Ti Dar also holds a potential entry on Saturday in the Hardwicke Stakes and the pair will be trying to break a streak they have going of never being able to win at the same meet, with one of the siblings finishing first and one second when running at the same racecourse two times so far.

Phoenix Of Spain pulled off a surprise victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last month but he won’t have that element in his corner when he lines up here. In a wide-open 3-year-old division, Phoenix Of Spain is one of the leaders and it won’t be a surprise to see him win here. Jockey Jamie Spencer again takes the mount, the fifth time he’s been on the colt in seven races.

Wolferton Stakes

Second in the Pegasus Turf Invitational in January, Coolmore’s Magic Wand was most recently third by three-quarters of a length in the Man O’ War Stakes ahead of stablemate Hunting Horn. Magic Wand has been close in many of her starts over the past year but her last win came last year at this very meeting in the Ribblesdale Stakes. She’ll be cutting back to easier competition here so it won’t be surprising to see a win, since she has been finishing close behind in Group 1 races in every start since last year’s Royal Ascot meet. She is also entered in the Princes Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday but it is extremely unlikely we’ll see her there since she has been declared for this race.


Wednesday, June 19

Queen Mary Stakes

On the second day of the carnival, trainer Wesley Ward will be sending out Anna’s Fast in the Queen Mary, a winner of her only start at Keeneland in April by 5 ½ lengths. Ward has 10 wins at the Royal Ascot Meet, with Lady Aurelia, Acapulco, and Jealous Again his three Queen Mary winners. Both Jealous Again and Lady Aurelia started their careers at Keeneland, like Anna’s Fast, while Acapulco made her debut at Churchill Downs. The filly also holds an entry in the Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday and the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday so if you don’t see her in this race, you’ll see her in one of those.

Kimari (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Also entered in the race is Ward’s Chili Petin, another Keeneland winner who scored by 2 ¾ lengths with John Velazquez aboard. Chili Petin is out of Saratoga stakes winner Cat’s Claw and by the sire City Zip, whose Sweet Emma Rose finished second in this race in 2013. She is also entered in the Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday and Albany Stakes on Friday. Chili Petin proved to be a fan favorite at Keeneland, letting a group of kids pet her in the winner’s circle after her victory.

Kimari was an impressive winner at Keeneland on April 25, making a mockery of the field when winning by 15 lengths on dirt with John Velazquez in the irons. Ward told At The Races that the filly has taken another step forward when moving to turf so she’ll be one to watch in the Queen Mary. In a year that sees Ward with a wealth of Royal Ascot 2-year-olds, Kimari also holds an entry later in the day in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

Hunting Horn (Eclipse Sportswire)

After traveling for most of the early months of the year, Hunting Horn is making his first start of the year close to home at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s, a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. The colt’s last start was in the Grade 1 Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park where he led nearly all the way before fading late to fourth. That was second time in the U.S. in 2019 with trips to Qatar and Dubai also on his itinerary. He is also entered in Saturday’s Hardwicke Stakes.

After finishing second to Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2018, Magical has gone on a tear over the European turf in 2019 with three wins in three starts. The 4-year-old Coolmore filly most recent won the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup by seven lengths over stablemate Flag Of Honour. She is currently the best female running in Europe right now with Enable on the sidelines and a victory here could have her challenging for the “best horse” in Europe title.

Breeders’ Cup Turf fifth-place finisher Waldgeist made his first start of the year in April when he finished first in the Group 1 Prix Ganay by 4 ½ lengths. The 5-year-old has started the year better than he has any of his past three seasons and looks like this may be a top year for him if he repeats his April performance. This is a tough edition of the race though, so he’ll have to be at his best to make an impact.

Royal Hunt Cup

The Queen will be represented on the second day of Royal Ascot when Seniority runs in the Royal Hunt Cup. The 5-year-old gelding was second in his prep for this race, his best finish since winning last summer at Goodwood. He finished eighth in this race earlier last summer. As mentioned above, the Queen is searching for her first Royal Ascot win since 2016.

The Queen also has Elector in this race with the gelding coming in off of an eighth-place finish on May 31, though he did win two starts ago. He had a gelding operation over the winter and that usually gives horses a boost so it could help him here. He has won at Ascot before as a 2-year-old but it wasn’t at the Royal Ascot meet. In his only appearance at Royal Ascot, he finished seventh in the King Edward VII Stakes last year.

Windsor Castle Stakes

Trained in England, Better The Devil has deep American roots. The Daredevil colt was raised in Kentucky and was sold at the Keeneland September yearling auction last year. He is also the first winner for his WinStar Farm-based sire, who won the Champagne Stakes as a 2-year-old at Belmont Park. If he runs, Better The Devil will be running back just a week after his debut but will be running at the same distance here for trainer Archie Watson, who won this race last year. The colt also has an entry in the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday.

Maven (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

One of the rare Wesley Ward 2-year-olds who has more than one start coming into Royal Ascot, Joker On Jack won on debut at Keeneland before running seventh in England at Newbury a month later. Ward’s first win at Royal Ascot came a decade ago in this very race with Strike The Tiger, and Ward again won the Windsor Castle Stakes with Hootenanny in 2014, but he’s been winless in the race since then. This is the only option for Joker On Jack, as Ward did not enter him in any other races.

Another Ward entry is the first American Pharoah-sired 2-year-old to win in the United States, Maven. A winner at Belmont in April, Maven is set for quite the interesting week. He will be selling at the Goffs London Sale on Monday before running for his new owner in either the Windsor Castle Stakes or Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. He’ll also potentially make history as the first American Pharoah offspring to run at the Royal Ascot meeting.

Belmont debut winner Foolish Humor is another Wesley Ward entry at Royal Ascot this week. The filly’s sire, Distorted Humor, is the sire of a Royal Ascot winner in Cursory Glance and has had four other placings at this race meeting through the years – all in 2-year-old races. Foolish Humor’s broodmare sire Giant’s Causeway also won at the Royal Ascot meeting 19 years ago when he took out the St. James’s Palace by a head. While Foolish Humor also has an entry in the Queen Mary Stakes, it is likelier we’ll see her here.


Thursday, June 20

Norfolk Stakes

Karak is returning to the continent where her Breeders’ Cup Mile-winning sire Karakontie was based during his career. The filly started later than Wesley Ward’s other runners, breaking her maiden in her debut on May 25 at Belmont Park. She does have more experience than her race record suggests as a 2-year-olds in training sale graduate, but running back a bit over three weeks after her debut while traveling may be a bit much for the filly, who also holds entries in two other races. The Norfolk is a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Hampton Court Stakes

A fairytale story at last year’s Royal Ascot was Arthur Kitt, who won the Chesham Stakes. The colt went on to run three more times that year, with a second behind champion 2-Year-Old Too Darn Hot in his next start. He ended the year at Churchill Downs when he was fourth by only 2 ½ lengths behind Line Of Duty in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. It took him a few runs to get in form this year but he was second in his most recent race on June 10 and looks to get even better here over a course he likes.

Eightsome Reel is another representative for The Queen at Royal Ascot and may be her best chance at a winner. The colt is lightly raced with just four starts, but he’s won two of them with two other on-the-board finishes. Trainer Michael Bell has seven wins at Royal Ascot, his last coming in 2017 when he won the prestigious Gold Cup with Big Orange.

Gold Cup

One of the biggest races of the week, the Gold Cup, is led by Stradivarius. The John Gosden trainee is on a six-race win streak and won this race last year. He made his first start of the year last month when he won by only three-quarters of a length but he should move forward from that race. He posted a thrilling victory last year, beating another top stayer in Vazirabad by three-quarters of a length. With a tough field assembled, we could see that again this year.

Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter came back a winner in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March and is looking to win a third major staying race here. He will be going further than those two-mile races in the Gold Cup but he hasn’t shown that two miles is his max so he could be a threat to Stradivarius here. Cross Counter is coming into Thursday’s endurance test on a two-race win streak and has won four of his last five starts.


Friday, June 21

Albany Stakes

Nayibeth (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Wesley Ward told At The Races that the 2-year-old he’s been most excited about since his Royal Ascot juveniles started breezing is Nayibeth, who won her Keeneland debut by 4 ¼ lengths. Ward has the Carpe Diem filly aiming for the six-furlong Albany Stakes, though she holds entries in the Queen Mary Stakes and Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday as well.

Commonwealth Cup

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint third-place finisher So Perfect is taking the boys in the Commonwealth Cup for trainer Aidan O’Brien. The Kentucky-bred Scat Daddy daughter is coming into this race off a 2 ¼-length victory in a Group 3 stakes in May and she was third by only a head in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Fred Darling Stakes in her seasonal debut in April. That third-place finish was reminiscent of her run at last year’s Royal Ascot meet, when she was fourth by only a half-length in the Queen Mary Stakes. She also holds an entry on the same day in the Coronation Stakes, but either way, as long as she runs at Royal Ascot, you’ll see her on Day 4.

Wesley Ward’s influence is felt in the Commonwealth Cup even though he doesn’t have a starter. His Norfolk Stakes winner No Nay Never is now a successful sire with first 3-year-olds this year, including Ten Sovereigns. That colt, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won all three of his starts last year but lost his undefeated record when running fifth in the British 2,000 Guineas last month at a mile. He returns to a sprint distance here and should be competitive.

Coronation Stakes

A filly who has dominated this year’s mile races, Hermosa looks to add a third straight Group 1 win to her record after winning both the British and Irish 1,000 Guineas in May. She made easy work of the Irish 1,000 Guineas when winning by four lengths in her last start and so far no other filly has been able to touch her this year. It won’t be a surprise if she continues her roll here.

It doesn’t look like The Queen is afraid to take on Hermosa with the monarch having Magnetic Charm entered in this race. Magnetic Charm was close to getting a stakes victory last year as a 2-year-old but finally broke through in May in her Royal Ascot prep race. William Haggas is the trainer of this filly and is searching for a first win in the race, although he has eight Royal Ascot victories overall. Magnetic Charm is also entered in the Sandringham Stakes on the same card so she does have a few options here.

Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes

Fittingly, The Queen’s Royal Ascot presence looks like it will end on the final race of the Friday card in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Sextant is coming into the race off the worst finish of his career but that was just a fourth-place showing. The gelding has either won or finished second in his other four career starts. This is a fifth-generation homebred for The Queen, who has bred and raced each of the first four dams in his pedigree.


Saturday, June 22

Hardwicke Stakes

Masar makes his first start Saturday since winning the Epsom Derby last summer. The colt finished sixth at Del Mar in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf then put together a nice 3-year-old campaign early in 2018 that was derailed after his Derby victory. Masar also holds an entry in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but his connections have said this is the race he’s aiming for.

Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Bound for Nowhere (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

A year after a heartbreaking loss in the Diamond Jubilee, Bound for Nowhere returns to try again. The horse lost by only three quarters of a length to one of Australia’s top sprinters last year and Wesley Ward has told At The Races he believes the 5-year-old is ready to win off a second place finish to Imprimis (see above) at Keeneland in April. Bound for Nowhere finished fourth in his other Royal Ascot appearance in 2017. Ward won this race in 2015 with Undrafted, becoming the first U.S.-based trainer to win a Group 1 race at Royal Ascot. This race is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Though it won’t be a surprise if he doesn’t run after two unimpressive finishes this year, American Pharoah’s full brother St Patrick’s Day is entered in the Diamond Jubilee. The colt started his career with Bob Baffert in California where he beat eventual 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve fourth-place finisher Instilled Regard in his second start but after injury he was transferred to Aidan O’Brien in Ireland. St Patrick’s Day is also entered in the Wokingham Stakes later on the card over the same distance of six furlongs.

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