Homeracing

How to Bet the King's Stand Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 17th, 2018

The prestigious five-day meeting in England kicks off with a bang on June 19th, with three Group 1 events among the six races on the opening-day card.

Royal Ascot has seen a marked increase in participation from North American runners over the last decade or so, and arguably no horse has carried the North American banner better than Lady Aurelia, the Wesley Ward-trained filly who has scored impressive victories at the last two Royal Ascot meets, even beating older males in the prestigious King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) on opening day last summer.

#10 Lady Aurelia is back to defend her title in that five-furlong turf sprint and is considered the slightest of favorites among British bookmakers. There is some concern that perhaps Lady Aurelia has lost a step in recent months—after all, she’s gone 0-for-3 since winning the 2017 King’s Stand, and in her 2018 debut she was beaten into second as the heavy favorite in the 5 ½-furlong Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland.

But in Lady Aurelia’s defense, she’s never seemed quite as effective in North America as she is in Europe, where her tremendous early speed is more of an advantage than it is in the fast-paced turf sprints so typical of North American racing. Furthermore, the winner of the Giant’s Causeway—Triple Chelsea—is a very good sprinter in her own right, having won four stakes races this year.

I think we’ll see Lady Aurelia run much closer to her best in the King’s Stand, though she figures to face a stiff test from #1 Battaash, who is listed as the co-favorite with some bookmakers. The four-year-old gelding has won five of his last six starts, all over five furlongs, including a four-length romp in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (Fr-I) last fall. He kicked off his 2018 season with a narrow victory over the capable Washington DC in the Temple Stakes (Eng-II) at Haydock, overcoming a slow start to rally and win. Battaash has demonstrated the ability to win with almost any running style, and his overall Racing Post Rating of 138 is a point higher than Lady Aurelia’s 137, so from that perspective at least, Battaash is deemed to be slightly superior to the North American invader.

The rest of the runners would need to step up a notch to contend if the top two fire their best shots. The above-mentioned #9 Washington DC plus #6 Kachy and #11 Mabs Cross were all beaten less than a length by Battaash in the Temple Stakes, though all were carrying significantly lighter weight assignments than the winner and won’t have that advantage in the King’s Stand, though Mabs Cross—with five wins from his last seven starts—is a lightly-raced four-year-old who might have some potential to keep improving.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$5 exacta: 1,10 with 1,10 ($10) $1 trifecta: 1,10 with 1,10 with 6,9,11 ($6) $1 trifecta: 1,10 with 6,9,11 with 1,10 ($6) $1 trifecta: 1,10 with 1,6,9,10,11 with 1,6,9,10,11 ($12)

Good luck!
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