Royal Ascot: Three spot plays for opening day

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June 17th, 2019

On Tuesday racing fans around the globe will turn their attention to Ascot Racecourse in England, where the five-day race meet will take place June 18-22.

The prestigious and much-anticipated meet will feature high-class horses from around the world in 30 races, including 19 group stakes. The opening-day card is particularly deep, with three group 1 races on the agenda.

Want to get in on the action? Here are three Tuesday spot plays to get you started.

Race 1: Queen Anne Stakes (G1)

The annual meet opener is a one-mile run down the straight course, which should be perfect for #15 Laurens. A five-time group 1 winner, this 4-year-old filly defeated the classy Alpha Centauri in the Matron Stakes (G1) in September and kicked off 2019 with a runner-up effort behind #9 Mustashry in the one-mile Locking Stakes (G1) over the straight course at Newbury. Mustashry won by 2 1/2 lengths that day and is favored to take the Queen Anne, but he had the benefit of a prep run before the Lockinge, whereas Laurens was making her seasonal debut.
Laurens has every right to improve in her second start of the year, just as she did in 2018, and in terms of Racing Post Ratings, she hardly needs any improvement at all to be right in the thick of things. The Lockinge has historically been a key prep for the Queen Anne, so let’s bet Laurens to win and play her in the exacta with Mustashry and #2 Barney Roy, the winner of the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) over this course and distance in 2017.

$15 to win on #15 Laurens $5 exacta: 15 with 2,9 ($10)

Race 3: King’s Stand Stakes (G1)

#2 Blue Point won this race last year and went 3-for-3 in Dubai during the winter, while #1 Battaash had little difficulty winning the Temple Stakes (G2) at Haydock last month. These accomplished sprinters loom as the two to beat in the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes, but the American hopeful #5 Imprimis could have an upset chance. A four-time stakes winner, Imprimis overcame a stumble at the start of the Shakertown Stakes (G2) on April 6 at Keeneland to rally and win over Bound for Nowhere, who ran third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot last year.
Imprimis has plenty of tactical speed and handled genuinely soft ground just fine in the five-furlong Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico last year, so encountering deeper going Tuesday shouldn’t hurt his chances. Let’s bet Imprimis to win and make him our key horse in the exacta and trifecta.

$7 to win on #5 Imprimis $3 exacta: 5 with 1,2 ($6) $3 exacta: 1,2 with 5 ($6) $3 trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with 5 ($6)

Race 4: St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1)

This one-mile test for 3-year-olds looks like a perfect spot for #10 Too Darn Hot to regain his best form. Racing for the powerful team of trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori, Too Darn Hot went undefeated in four starts as a juvenile, when he easily defeated future classic winners Anthony Van Dyck and Phoenix of Spain in races like the Champagne Stakes (G2) and Dewhurst Stakes (G1).
Unfortunately a setback caused Too Darn Hot to miss the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1), and after rushing into the 10 1/2-furlong Dante Stakes (G2), where he finished second, Too Darn Hot wheeled back nine days later for the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (G1) and finished second again behind Phoenix of Spain. It wasn’t the most ideal spring campaign, but with these fitness-building efforts under his belt (plus 3 1/2 weeks to recover), Too Darn Hot should be ready for a much-improved effort in the St. James’s Palace Stakes.

Let’s bet him to win and play him in a straight exacta with #5 Phoenix of Spain.

$15 to win on #10 Too Darn Hot $10 exacta: 10 with 5

Total: $75

Good luck!