2024 Irish 2000 Guineas Day: A 50-1 shot to consider in your wagering strategy

May 24th, 2024

Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) card at the Curragh is part of the Rest of the World Money Back offer on TwinSpires.com.

Just opt in before the qualifying races, place a single horse Win wager, and receive up to $10 if your horse finishes second. The offer applies to the first straight Win wager per eligible race (with at least five runners). More details can be found on the offers page.

While Rosallion and River Tiber are the leading win candidates in the Guineas, Atlantic Coast is a sneaky longshot who could make it into the frame. Let’s look at the undercard first before analyzing the classic, which goes off as the fifth race.

Thankfully, the rain isn’t forecast to arrive until Saturday evening, so conditions should remain fine through racing and not deteriorate until Sunday. 

Race 1 (8:20 a.m. ET) – 2yo maiden

Aidan O’Brien has won this race twice in the past five years, including with eventual Breeders’ Cup hero Unquestionable, and another Wootton Bassett colt is likely to be favored in #8 Henri Matisse (7-2). The half-brother to star juvenile fillies Tenebrism and Statuette gets Ryan Moore aboard for his debut, marking him as Ballydoyle’s first-stringer. But stablemate #10 Monumental (4-1) is eligible to be at least as precocious, as a son of Kingman. Michael O’Callaghan unveils a Mehmas half-brother to River Tiber, #12 Red Evolution (10-1), who could be the best price chance. He’s entitled to be sharp as a recent graduate of the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale, where he brought about $392,000.

Race 2 (8:55 a.m. ET) – Marble Hill (G3)

Will Ballydoyle be going for a painterly double with #2 Camille Pissarro (3-2)? Like Henri Matisse, he’s a son of Wootton Bassett, and as a half-brother to Group 1-winning sprinter Golden Horde, he commanded nearly $1.6 million as a Tattersalls October yearling. Camille Pissarro deserves credit for winning first up despite not looking all that clued in, implying that he’s a lot better than the bare form of his Navan maiden (which hasn’t worked out). He’ll need to make the forecast improvement here to justify his short price, but he is the only entrant virtually proven at the six-furlong trip.

Well-named stablemate #6 The Parthenon (8-1), a Coolmore homebred out of dual classic-placed Wonder of Wonders, intriguingly starts out at this Group 3 level. The Kingman colt is a full brother to Buttons, who won her debut last summer and rates a chance in Sunday’s Irish 1000 Guineas (G1).

Joseph O’Brien has been known to upstage his father on occasion, and #4 Midnight Strike (3-1) could do it again. The Starspangledbanner colt floored a Ballydoyle hotpot, Treasure Isle (a next-out winner), in their mutual debut. Starspangledbanner has another contender in Fozzy Stack’s #7 Unexpected Issues (7-1), a full sister to the 2021 Marble Hill hero, Castle Star. After toppling an Aidan O’Brien favorite in her Navan premiere, Unexpected Issues was subsequently acquired by a partnership including Medallion (in a manner reminiscent of future Group 1 heroine Porta Fortuna).

Race 3 (9:30 a.m. ET) – Greenlands (G2)

You can make a case for several in this six-furlong sprint that has no shortage of logical contenders. As price plays to include in your strategy, consider #12 Ocean Quest (6-1 in the past performances but likely to trade higher) and #9 Easy (12-1).

Ocean Quest, representing the Jessica Harrington/Shane Foley tandem, was a solid fourth in last summer’s Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot as a 25-1 shot before bolting up in the Ballyogan (G3). She’s entitled to move up from her second to #2 Moss Tucker (4-1) in the Woodlands S. over five furlongs at a rain-affected Naas; these conditions are more suitable to bring out the best in her. 

Easy hadn’t been sighted since 2022, but the Team Valor and Gary Barber colorbearer made it look easy off the layoff when dominant in the March 30 Cork S. The Andy Slattery-trained filly beat a respectable group, including favored Yosemite Valley, the next-out winner of the Gladness S. 

Race 4 (10:05 a.m. ET) – Orby S.

#11 Sumiha (7-2) was unlucky to miss by a half-length in her stakes debut in the April 26 Noblesse S. at Cork, where she was strung up in traffic and picked up late. Considering that the Aga Khan homebred was making just her second career start, off an eight-month layoff, she stamped herself as one to follow. As a daughter of Sea the Stars, from the family of the sublime Sinndar, Sumiha could develop into anything for Dermot Weld. She’s also in receipt of eight pounds from William Haggas shipper #1 Candleford (4-1) and five pounds from Joseph O’Brien’s #3 Raise You (4-1).

Race 5 (10:40 a.m. ET) – Irish 2000 Guineas

It’s easy to see why #6 Rosallion, listed at even-money in the Brisnet.com past performances, is trading at odds-on abroad. Hero of last fall’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) in stakes-record time over the re-opposing #8 Unquestionable (5-1), Rosallion returned with an excellent second in the original 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket. The Richard Hannon pupil would have been more vulnerable on a softer surface, so the better conditions are in his favor. He should continue to have the measure of stablemate #3 Haatem (5-1), third in Newmarket’s Guineas and expected to step up in trip after Saturday.

Yet does Rosallion tower over the field as his price implies? If Ballydoyle celebrity #5 River Tiber (4-1) hadn’t been forced out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) by order of the veterinarian, the Guineas market might well look totally different. For that was supposed to be his first test at a mile. Granted, the two-turn mile at Santa Anita isn’t the strictest stamina test, but it would have given a better read beyond River Tiber’s existing resume at six furlongs.

Aidan O’Brien is still adamant that River Tiber is better than his understudy, Unquestionable, who went on to win the Juvenile Turf in his absence. Indeed, River Tiber appeared a budding star when winning his first three starts, including the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot. Then the Wootton Bassett colt wasn’t at his best in the second half of the season. Ridden quietly in the Prix Morny (G1), where he stayed on for third, he was third again in the Middle Park (G1). If he could place in two prestigious events despite not being pitch-perfect, that might speak more to his quality even more than his earlier victories.

Although River Tiber’s pedigree isn’t a certainty for the mile (he’s out of an Arcano mare), the Guineas isn’t likely to have a ferocious pace either. The race shape may play well for him. The layoff is another concern, especially in the circumstances. The master of Ballydoyle is describing this as a reconnaissance mission for River Tiber’s future targets: if he doesn’t see out the trip, he’ll revert to sprinting.

But if he does stay, River Tiber could be a serious challenger to Rosallion at a much more palatable price. He reportedly pleased connections with a recent racecourse gallop at Navan, and Aidan O’Brien has said that he’s the most forward of the Ballydoyle trio. Unquestionable is more in need of this race, having sustained a setback in the build-up, and #4 Mountain Bear (15-1) was last seen being vanned off after his runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup.

The other value, if realistically more from an exotics perspective, is Joseph O’Brien’s #1 Atlantic Coast (50-1). A resounding debut winner in his only prior start at the Curragh last August, the Kodiac colt was a determined third in the one-mile Champions Juvenile (G2) to the Ballydoyle pair of Diego Velazquez and Capulet, both of whom have continued to progress this term. Atlantic Coast beat a couple of other notables that day in Deepone and Bremen.

Although he cut back to seven furlongs in the Killavullan (G3), the way Atlantic Coast closed relentlessly on heavy going to nip #2 Bright Stripes (50-1) suggests that he wasn’t at the end of his tether. His comeback over the same track and trip in the April 7 Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial (G3) was a debacle; he faded to a remote seventh as the co-favorite. But old foe Bright Stripes, who ran even worse as the last home, rebounded in style to take the May 6 The Tetrarch S., and it would be no surprise for Atlantic Coast to turn the page. Note that he adds a tongue-tie now, presumably to prevent what happened last time.

Joseph has mentioned he’s likely to drop down for Royal Ascot’s Jersey (G3) next, but the mile isn’t a forlorn hope on pedigree. Atlantic Coast’s dam, the Group 3-placed Oasis Dream mare Liwa Palace, won over as far as about 1 3/16 miles, and such sires as Dubai Millennium and Nashwan factor in the female line. 

Race 8 (12:25 p.m. ET) – 3yo colts/geldings maiden

After a couple of intervening handicaps, the card concludes with a potentially informative 1 1/4-mile maiden.

#2 Jan Brueghel (3-1), a full brother to 2019 Irish Derby (G1) upsetter Sovereign, launches his career for Ballydoyle. The Galileo colt holds entries in the King Edward VII (G2) at Royal Ascot as well as the Irish Derby. But he’s not the only newcomer of interest; others to watch are Joseph’s #9 Rosso (9-2), a Camelot blueblood, and Harrington’s #10 Trethorn (6-1), a Dubawi colt from the prolific family of Too Darn Hot.

They will meet a good yardstick in Andy Oliver’s #7 Ozark Daze (3-1), whose recent placings to London City and Kinesiology set the standard on form. Also worth a look is once-raced #8 Raydamann (10-1), the choice of Johnny Murtagh’s stable jockey Ben Coen. By Sea the Stars and out of Group 2-winning stakes producer Raydara, the Aga Khan homebred is surely better than his eighth on debut over heavy ground last October.