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No Europeans here to mention but local betting suggests Songbird is the one to beat. She has looked good enough in her work from what I have seen and heard, and arrives here unbeaten after three races in good times which makes her tricky to oppose, but do look out for Rachel’s Valentina. Trained by Todd Pletcher, our man at the track suggests the camp exude confidence about her chances and it may be closer between the pair than the betting suggests.
Everyone knows or has heard of the likeable Wesley Ward and he must like our jockeys too having booked Frankie Dettori to ride favourite Undrafted here. We can’t work out why we don’t have a single challenger here on the grass, but based on our knowledge he is heads and shoulders ahead of the rest of the field and NFL player Wes Welker obviously thinks a lot of Undrafted having sent him over to Royal Ascot to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes which is some great form. If you don’t like backing the jolly how about one of Wesley’s other runners in The Great War? Moved over here from the Aidan O’Brien yard he still has the same owners hence Ryan Moore in the saddle and is not without a place chance at the very least in a race we prefer to watch rather than bet in!
A wide open renewal of this race sees them betting 11/2 the field as we write, which shows you how tricky it is to call. Cavorting is a classy three year old with more room for improvement than her elders perhaps and has won her last three races over six and seven furlongs at Belmont and twice at Saratoga. She was pretty impressive last time out and deserves her place at the head of the market and as our tips. Looking for a tenuous UK link leads us to each way possibility Taris who is trained by Simon Callaghan, son of legendary Newmarket trainer Neville. She was only third over half a furlong further at Santa Anita last time out but faded late on that day and should be happier here, while the booking of Gary Stevens is never a bad thing and can only increase her chances.
Good as she is the short price about Legatissimo is likely to be bettered on track (so take local SP if you fancy her chances as we do), though she does look to be the best filly in the race. Again, soft ground could well be a concern by race time but she has won on Yielding at Leopardstown; she comes here off the back of two Group 1 wins in a row (and two short head defeats in her Group 1 performances before that) and she’s the one to beat. Secret Gesture is a possible value alternative for Ralph Beckett at a double figure price and although she is also perhaps better on faster ground, she does stay a bit further and could make the frame at the very least?
The betting suggests that Private Zone is the one to be on but beware, it may not be that clear cut. The six year old’s last two wins have been pretty clear cut but that seems to happen more often over there than at home, and we aren’t as convinced we should read that much in to it though he does seem sure to run well based on his last win at Saratoga. Our man at the track has been speaking to some well connected local press and track staff and they are quietly keen on the each way chances of Limousine Liberal who is available at a massive price and is our tip for the race. She was second to Runhappy on her penultimate start who we think has great chances here and wihle beten at odds on last time has John Velazquez booked and is open to improvement.
We are absolutely gutted to see the rain in Kentucky as Time Test looked a superb bet, but if it all stops soon it may ride good by Saturday – fingers crossed! Roger Charlton’s charge looked as if he had taken the journey well when spotted on the track this morning but may not handle the softer going which is a real shame as we really wanted a decent bet! However we think we have identified plenty of value in the French 2nd favourite Esoterique who is in good form and will handle the ground. Clearly with over £700,000 to the winner the Mile will always be a competitve race but she has incredible form having beaten Integral and Territories into 2nd in her last two starts and she was just 1 length off Solow in June at Royal Ascot.
Can we write No Comment on this race? It really is about the toughest to call of the day as far as we can see, though Waterloo Bridge has got in so we ought to at least cheer if not necessarily back Aidan O’Brien’s juvenile. The locals quite like the chances of Isotherm who has won his last two and is going the right way – it’s a very interesting switch back to dirt given that’s where he started (and underperformed) before switching back to turf where he has won his last two starts including a Grade 3 last time out and that form isn’t massively behind anything in what is a very open race so we’re happy to take the big odds option.
We were planning a massive bet on Golden Horn here who is easily the best horse in the race and expected to make a winning swansong before he heads off to stud. The weather may have intervened as we all know he isn’t at his best on a softer surface which is a real shame, but the ground has now regressed to Yielding and he beat Found on that in the controversial Irish Champion Stakes so we’re on him again. Found gets 3lb (again) but was flattered by her finishing position compared to Golden Horn who will improve further if he can just get his head down and run in the right direction!
For race of the day read race of the decade as the excitement builds over a fascinating renewal. American Pharoah is the likeliest winner based on his Triple Crown exploits and reports of some exciting recent workouts, while his decent draw in the four stall is a positive bonus. We’ve talked to everyone we can at the track and the opinion is that American Pharoah will just prove too good; he’s had his 2 month break after his defeat by Keen Ice (who we tipped on Twitter!) and everything else is trying to catch up. The two Each Way options are Gleneagles who at 10/1 for a dual 2,000 Guineas and Royal Ascot is a huge price, and Smooth Roller who destroyed a Grade 1 field last time out and who looked very good working on the track to our eyes.