The key to handicapping Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) at Ascot in England is determining which runner will prove quickest at slogging through the rain-soaked, “heavy” turf course.
The Queen Elizabeth II, held over the straight course at Ascot, is technically a mile in distance. But since the course is mostly uphill, the race is a stiffer test of stamina than it first appears, and the bog-like course figures to place an even greater emphasis on stamina over speed.
So in some respects, it’s easy to understand why bettors are rushing to support #8 The Revenant. The 4-year-old son of Dubawi has rattled off six consecutive victories in France and Germany, most notably the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) over very soft ground at Longchamp. The course conditions at Ascot won’t be any obstacle for The Revenant, though his relative lack of experience racing over longer distances leaves me wondering how he’ll handle the stiff mile Saturday.
#3 Century Dream should benefit if the Queen Elizabeth II turns into a grinding test of stamina. Conditioned by Simon Crisford, Century Dream nearly sprung a 25-1 upset in this race last year, when he led into the final furlong and came up less than a length short against champion Roaring Lion.
Century Dream’s tactical speed should ensure he’s right in the thick of things in the final quarter mile. That is usually what you want when racing over testing conditions, which can dampen late rallies and make it difficult for closers to accelerate. Century Dream boasts a strong record over rain-soaked courses, and while he hasn’t run since March—when he finished midfield in the Dubai Turf (G1) at Meydan—he has won running as far as 1 1/4 miles and might be surprisingly dangerous off the layoff.
The ground could be less suitable for world-traveling group 1 winner #2 Benbatl. He has won races in England, Dubai, Germany and Australia, but soft ground is his weakness, and he has been disappointing in his three runs over ground worse than good.
So here’s my advice. In this wide-open race with a large field and challenging conditions, bet Century Dream to win, and then play him under “all others” in the exacta. Century Dream might well be 20-1 in the wagering, and should he finish second behind a similar longshot, the exacta payoff could be massive.
$15 to win on #3 Century Dream
$1 exacta: ALL with 3 ($15)