Historically, the one-mile St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot has been dominated by horses that competed in the top-class “Guineas” races throughout Europe—the one-mile European classics held in England, Ireland, and France.
That’s why it’s interesting to see that the John Gosden-trained #9 Without Parole is the clear favorite in the St. James’s Palace Stakes despite the fact that he did not contest any of the three Guineas races, missing England’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket due to a foot bruise. Certainly the fact that Without Parole is unbeaten in three starts is impressive, and he demonstrated that he’s over his foot bruise by winning the one-mile Heron Stakes at Sandown last month, but the fact remains that this son of Frankel has yet to contest a group stakes race of any kind—let alone a Group 1—and will likely need to step up his game while taking on much tougher competition at Royal Ascot.
Suffice to say, Without Parole will face no shortage of accomplished Guineas runners in the St. James’s Palace Stakes, including #5 Romanised, #8 U S Navy Flag, #3 Gustav Klimt, and #6 Threeandfourpence—the top four finishers in the Irish 2,000 Guineas—as well as #7 Tip Two Win, runner-up in the Newmarket version behind the heralded Saxon Warrior.
In handicapping the race, I’m drawn to Tip Two Win, whose effort at Newmarket was excellent. While the son of Dark Angel wasn’t a match for Saxon Warrior, he was only beaten 1 ¼ lengths at the wire while edging out the future Epsom Derby winner Masar for the runner-up spot, with the likes of Roaring Lion (third in the Derby) and the above-mentioned Gustav Klimt among his beaten rivals. Trained by Roger Teal, Tip Two Win has never finished out of the trifecta and should find the competition slightly easier at Royal Ascot, giving him every chance to vie for victory.
Likewise, I have to support Romanised on the basis of his clear-cut win against a quality field in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. For a longshot, I’ll consider #1 Chilean. While he might prefer softer ground than he’ll encounter at Royal Ascot, he did defeat the future Group 1 Prix de Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Study of Man in the Prix La Force (Fr-III) going nine furlongs in April, and his most recent run—a fourth-place finish in the Classic Trial Stakes (Eng-III) at Sandown—came going ten furlongs, which might prove to be beyond his best distance.
Here’s how I would play the race: