Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Great clash expected in King's Plate

January 6th, 2023

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series heads to Kenilworth racecourse in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday with two qualifying races — one of which has a new name.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the former Queen’s Plate is reverting to its previous name of the King’s Plate (G1). Its winner will have automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

The other, the Paddock Stakes (G1), earns its winner a place in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1). Both races have defending champions — one of which is aiming for a three-peat, the other the Horse of the Year — but they face strong challenges.

Race 7, 8:35 a.m. ET: Paddock Stakes (G1), 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), fillies and mares

#3 Captain’s Ransom won this race last year on her way to the Horse of the Year title. Her season of six wins in seven starts included not only domination of the distaffers, but victory over the male speedsters in the Mercury Sprint (G1).

She faces arguably a better field this year, as it includes last season’s filly Triple Crown winner #1 Rain In Holland and #7 Sparkling Water, winner of the country’s most prestigious race, the Durban July (G1). Cape Fillies Guineas (G1) winner #8 Make It Snappy and last year’s third-place finisher #6 Marina add to the interest, but Captain’s Ransom won easily when resuming Nov. 16 and will be hard to topple.

  • $20 win: #3 Captain’s Ransom
  • $2 trifecta: 3 with 1, 6, 7, 8 with 1, 6, 7, 8

Race 8, 9:10 a.m. ET: King’s Plate (G1), 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds and up

Normally you’d expect a two-time defending champion to dominate the betting, especially one as good as #10 Jet Dark. He resumed Nov. 5 with an easy victory carrying 136 pounds in the Variety Club Mile (G3) and most years would be shorter than his early 4-1 odds.

But this year he’s facing a three-year-old that some South Africans say is the best since turn-of-the-century champ Horse Chestnut. #9 Charles Dickens (like Jet Dark a son of Vosburgh [G1] winner Trippi) is unbeaten in six starts, and he scored a 4 1/4-length victory in the Cape Guineas (G1) over a mile Dec. 17. With a 5 kg pull in the weights, he could start at odds-on.

These two stand out, and it may be best to pair them in trifectas. Other exotics candidates include #8 Kommetdieding, #11 Linebacker, #2 Trip of Fortune, and #1 Golden Ducat.

  • $3 trifecta: 9 with 10 with 1, 2, 8, 11
  • $1 trifecta: 10 with 9 with 1, 2, 8, 11