Unless you’re talking about a Brown Jack or a Yeats (and maybe Frankel), there are no sure things at Royal Ascot. No lead-pipe cinches. However, many bettors often rely on the near equivalent of these, also known as “singles” or “free squares,” to keep the cost down on multi-race wagers.
The closest perceived thing to a “free square” at Royal Ascot this week is CRACKSMAN (#2) in the Prince of Wales’s (G1), which will be the fourth and final leg of the $1 Pick 4 on Wednesday’s card. Despite a nail-biting win in the Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom Downs last time, the general consensus is that John Gosden’s brilliant colt will be more formidable at Ascot, over which he romped to a seven-length win in the Champion (G1) last October. In contrast, Cracksman has never shown his very best at Epsom, over which he’s narrowly won twice and finished third in the Derby (G1) in three prior runs.
Cracksman still has to deliver, but he will be an overwhelming popular single in the Pick 4. That will allow bettors to spread earlier in the sequence, hoping to catch a a price or two along the way. It’s almost always better to have a heavy favorite come late in a sequence and preceded by longer prices than vice versa.
With Cracksman as our lone “A” in the Prince of Wales’s, here’s who we’re including in the first three legs:
Race 1 — Queen Mary (G2)
You have to beat a favorite somewhere, so why not right off the bat in a 22-horse stampede of two-year-old fillies? We’ll take a stand against the Wesley Ward-trained CHELSEA CLOISTERS (#1) and instead use four others. FOREVER IN DREAMS (#6) has showed strong form winning twice in France already, including a victory against males last time at Saint-Cloud beating next-out scorer Trois Mats. SECOND GENERATION (#15) showed significant improvement second out winning by a wide margin at Catterick, moving well. SHADES OF BLUE (#17) won over this course and distance first out against two next out winners and is deserving of a long look as the logical home team favorite. SIGNORA CABELLO (#19) showed professionalism for her age last out at York, overcoming tight quarters between rivals and then bursting through late to win the Marygate Stakes going away.
Race 2 — Queens Vase (G3)
John Gosden won this last year with a son of Sea the Stars, Stradivarius, and looks to make it two straight with another son of that great runner. STREAM OF STARS (#11) has started just twice, but his maiden score over this course at 1 1/2 miles was strong and the extra quarter-mile seems within his scope. The Aidan O’Brien trio are hard to separate. KEW GARDENS (#5) didn’t fare well at Epsom, but is sure to stay. The same can be said for the relatively inexperienced SOUTHERN FRANCE (#9). NELSON (#8) might not get the trip, but his form lines make him the one to beat from a class perspective.
Race 3 — Duke of Cambridge (G2)
Favorite HYDRANGEA (#1) is sure to improve off a season-opening run in the Lanwades Stud (G2) at the Curragh. Came on late last year to become a dual Group 1 winner after serving as a nominal pacesetter for higher profile stablemates early in the season. ALJAZZI (#3) is another that should move up forward off her season debut, in her case a third against males in the Sandown Mile (G3). Beaten less than a length in this spot last year at 40-1, but questions about her relative class persist. ARABIAN HOPE (#4) was a solid third behind Roly Poly and the now-retired Breeders’ Cup winner Wuheida in the Falmouth (G1) last summer, which gives some glimmer of hope. She’s run some bad ones, though, trailing the Prix Rothschild (G1) and Sun Chariot (G1) in two of her last three.
Here’s the $1 ticket:
6,15,17,19 with 5,8,9,11 with 1,3,4 with 2 = $48
You can watch and wager on Royal Ascot all week at TwinSpires.com.