Juvenile Turf Sprint
GOLDEN PAL was an excellent second to The Lir Jet in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, over five lengths clear of the re-opposing Lipizzaner in fourth, and could hardly have been more impressive when winning at Saratoga last time out, extending clear under a hands and heels ride with all rivals hard at work yet unable to get close. That came over the same trip as he will encounter here and although being drawn widest of all in stall 14 will make things tougher, if arriving in the same form as last time out he should prove tough to beat
Second Of July won at odds of 50/1 on debut and then switched to turf for the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes, digging deep to hold off the late challenge of After Five and post another big priced victory, this time at 22/1. Given this result I am slightly surprised that After Five is the shorter of the two in the market, as I see no reason why the form should be reversed here. As with the favourite, he has been done no favours with the draw but he has already proved he has a bit of class about him and should give another good show.
Although Lipizzaner was well beaten by Golden Pal the last time they met, he has since won at Listed level and placed in a Group 3. His career wins to date have come on a slower surface than he is likely to encounter here, however his second to subsequent Group 1 winner Lucky Vega came on good-to-firm so he shouldn't be too inconvenienced by conditions and is well drawn to attack from stall 3 so looks to be the main hope of the Europeans.
Ubettabelieveit got the better of Sacred (who had previously ran a close second to both Campanelle and Miss Amulet in Group 2 races at Ascot and York respectively) in the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster in September, staying on to stick his nose out on the line and defying odds of 40/1 in the process. All career wins have come over five furlongs and his sole attempt over six furlongs resulted in a last-placed finish, but the way he has progressed throughout the season as a whole gives hope that the Nigel Tinkler runner has a decent chance of snatching a place.
Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore both have an excellent record in this race and team up again with Battleground who has posted two wins from two since stepping up to seven furlongs, one at Listed level and the latest at Group 2 level, finishing his races very strongly on both occasions. On that evidence there is every chance that he will excel over this slightly longer trip, however the fact that he hasn't raced since July would be a slight concern.
The main danger according to the betting is Todd Pletcher's Mutasaabeq who was last seen winning the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes here at Keeneland, over a trip a half furlong further than he will encounter here. He sat about ten lengths off the pace, last of the eleven runners on the back straight before going about 10 wide on the home turn and powering away on the straight. He showed enough speed to gain victory over a much shorter trip on debut and that victory last time out also showed he has plenty of stamina, however I am not sure if he will get away with a similar run in Grade 1 company today.
NEW MANDATE has improved for each run over the season, winning a Listed contest over seven furlongs at Doncaster in September before stepping up to a mile and winning the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket when last seen, beating subsequent Group 1 winner Gear Up in to fourth. Perfectly drawn in stall 2, he is the selection in what looks to be a typically competitive race.
Cadillac finished fifth in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs in soft ground at Newmarket when last seen, but before that had beaten subsequent Group 1 Prix Criterium International winner Van Gogh by over three lengths at Leopardstown over a mile trip in September. That victory, and his previous maiden victory, both came on fast ground so with conditions likely to suit and given that he is proven over the trip he is certainly one to consider for a place at the very least..
Sealiway was an ultra impressive eight length winner of the Jean Luc Lagadere at Longchamp in October and wasn't stopping at the line so should be capable of seeing out this longer trip, although from what we have seen so far he may prefer a slower surface to be seen to best effect.
Mark Casse has sent nine runners out to win this race and is yet to taste victory, however will be hoping he can finally break his duck with Grade 1 Stakes winner Gretzky The Great. That Grade 1 victory was his first attempt over a mile and he saw out the race well, finishing three lengths clear of second and racing all the way to the wire. Stall 11 isn't ideal but he has improved with each run throughout the season and could still be capable of taking another step forwards here.
PRINCESS NOOR won exactly as a 1/5 shot should in the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes when last seen, cruising to the lead on the final bend and extending away without being asked any serious questions. Immediately after this race, jockey Victor Espinoza said '… as a filly, she's the best one i've ever ridden'. Prior to that she won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in similarly taking fashion and it's difficult to say just how high-class she could be given that she looks to do things so effortlessly. Drawn widest of all in stall 7, this will be the biggest test of her career so far, however it would be somewhat of a surprise were she not up to the challenge.... although that is not to say that victory will come easy!
Simply Ravishing was an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades last time out, breaking well from a wide berth to take the lead, setting steady fractions before kicking off the bend and winning convincingly by around seven lengths and taking her winning tally to three in a row. She is a talented filly who looks to be going places, however given what we have seen from Princess Noor so far this season I fear she may have to settle for minor honours today.
Dayouoftheoffice is also unbeaten in three, winning at 5f, 6f and the Grade 1 Frizette over a mile when last seen, coming clear on the final bend and staying on all the way to the line to beat the odds-on favourite Vequist by a couple of lengths with the remainder of the field way behind. On that evidence cannot see any reason why the form should be reversed, although she will need to step forwards again if she is to beat the favourite.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Aunt Pearl won the Grade 2 'win & you're in' Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland last month, breaking well to get to the front and holding off the challenge of Spanish Loveaffair up the straight to follow up on her earlier victory at Churchill Downs. She looks likely to try and control the race from the front and if allowed an easy time of things on the lead she could be tough to peg back as we know she stays on well, however this is another step up in Grade and she's up against a high quality field so may find this tougher.
Unbeaten in three, including the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park when last seen, PLUM ALI is a no-nonsense filly who likes to sit in behind the leaders before showing a swift turn of foot to streak by in the straight. All 3 wins have come at differing courses, one of which came here at Keeneland, and she will stay every inch of the mile trip so I think she has the strength and ability to be able to run down Aunt Pearl in the straight to take victory here.
Chad Brown has won four of the last six renewals and his main hope this year looks to be Editor At Large who won well on debut at Saratoga, breaking well before allowing a couple of trailblazers to go on and set the pace, before sweeping past under a hands and heels ride for a comfortable victory. She could only manage third when up against Plum Ali last time out and although ran a decent race was always held by the winner. She only has a couple of lengths to find and could still be capable of further improvement, however to me looks more likely to be fighting it out for minor honours.
Campanelle has had an excellent season so far, winning on all three occasions including the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville in August when last seen. An undoubtedly high-class filly, the concern I would have is that she has only raced over distances of 5f and 6f so far and I think that stepping up 2f in a race of this nature is a tough ask.
Jackies Warrior is unbeaten in four, winning over trips from 6f to 8f & beating Reinvestment Risk at Grade 1 level (in the Runhappy Hopeful Stakes & the Champagne Stakes) the last twice. A confirmed front runner, she was granted an easy lead in both those races and came to the final bend in the lead, before staying on strongly to keep daylight between herself and rivals and win well.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY won a 6f maiden at Churchill Downs in September, before following up over a mile in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders Futurity at Keeneland last time out. He had to go wide off the first turn before settling in second along the back straight and then kicking for home on the final bend, lengthening away from rivals in what was a visually taking performance. I am under no illusions that it will be tough to beat the the thus-far unbeaten favourite, however I have been impressed with what I have seen from the Brad Cox trained two-year-old and think he is still capable of taking another step forwards.
Sittin On Go was a somewhat surprise 25/1 winner of the 'win & you're in' Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, coming from off the pace and having to go wide around the final bend before powering up the straight to win going away. It was an impressive performance as they didn't go off at a breakneck speed so its not as though the race collapsed around him – he simply ate up the ground and stayed on better than rivals. Another step forwards will be needed here, but thats not out of the question and he has definite place claims.
Another with an each way shout is ROMBAUER who was a fast finishing second last time out, initially sitting off the pace in last before circling the field and closing all the way up the straight on winner Get Her Number. The winner was all out for victory but Rombauer had closed to within a length at the line despite only being given a hands and heels ride inside the final furlong or so, and both were well clear of the remainder of the field. I get the impression that there is more to come from Michael McCarthys' runner and as such he could be worth an each way play at the odds.
ROMBAUER written by Dean Kilbryde