Royal Ascot 2024: Selections for Friday

June 20th, 2024

A pair of Group 1s highlight Day 4 of Royal Ascot on Friday, led by the Coronation (G1) for three-year-old fillies. After a rough day of picking Thursday, the English racing bankroll stands at $569. Each top selection will get a win wager equal to 5% of the bankroll balance.

Race 1 — 9:30 a.m. ET — Albany (G3)

The two dominant entities in English and Irish racing — Coolmore and Godolphin — both bring top players to this six-furlong dash for two-year-old fillies. Preference here at the prices is #6 Heavens Gate (10-1), who looked solid breaking her maiden second out at The Curragh over a next-out winner for the lads at Coolmore.

Nothing wrong at all with stablemate #5 Fairy Godmother (3-2), a strong favorite after showing a late burst to capture the Naas Fillies' Sprint (G3). Porta Fortuna and Meditate pulled off the Naas Fillies' Sprint/Albany double the past two years, so a hat trick, albeit at a miserly price, is certainly possible.

The Godolphin-owned #11 Mountain Breeze (2-1) is a half-sister to juvenile champion Pinatubo and won well in both prior starts at Newmarket. Longer shots to consider for the minor slots include French raider #7 Hot Darling (20-1), Hamilton debut winner #10 Liberalised (20-1), and the maiden #13 Peregrine Falcon (50-1).

Race 2 — 10:05 a.m. ET — Commonwealth Cup (G1)

The later-developing #4 Inisherin (5-2) bolted to the top of the three-year-old sprint class with a dominating performance in the Sandy Lane (G2) at Haydock last month, in which he defeated last year's division leader Vandeek by a comfortable margin. That followed a stellar effort in the 2000 Guineas (G1), where he was beaten less than five lengths by Notable Speech as a 40-1 chance in his stakes debut. Among the luminaries behind him was eventual Derby (G1) winner City of Troy. If able to repeat or better his Sandy Lane performance, Inisherin can get the job done as the public choice.

There's a bit of inconsistency among some of the others. #1 Elite Status (4-1) and #5 Jasour (6-1) were both precocious last spring and summer but tailed off badly in the fall. However, both were back to better form in their respective preps, Elite Status at Newbury and Jasour over this course and trip. Jasour is probably preferred of the two if the race is strongly run. #7 Lake Forest (15-1) would also benefit from a hot pace, though he might be in need of one following a layoff dating to the Middle Park (G1) last fall. #3 Givemethebeatboys (12-1) brings decent Irish form to the table and appears a must-use if spreading in exotics.

Race 3 — 10:45 a.m. ET — Coronation (G1)

A bunched-up finish in the 1000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket suggests it might not have been that strong of a race, but if you had to take a filly from it perhaps runner-up #6 Porta Fortuna (7-1) is the one. Unlike the fillies that finished on either side of her, she didn't have the benefit of a prep going into the classic. Yet she was right there and was just touched off by a neck.

Although not a fan of hers last season, she does seem to have come on as a three-year-old, is admirably consistent, and her price at this writing is relatively attractive as she returns to the course over which she captured the Albany 12 months ago.

If #5 Opera Singer (3-2) merely needed her prep in the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1), she'll be awfully dangerous at a low price. Her win in last fall's Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) was arguably the best turned in by a juvenile filly in Europe, and hard to believe The Curragh effort is representative of what we'll see from her this season.

#7 Ramatuelle (5-1) looks a serious player on the bare form, though I have concerns whether a mile, especially this one around a bend, is really what she wants to do in the long run. Her sprint form last term was outstanding, including a close loss to Vandeek in the Prix Morny (G1).

I completely missed the 1000 Guineas wedding on #3 Elmalka (7-2), so I'm hesitant to potentially attend the proverbial funeral. I had endorsed her in this space in the April 20 Fred Darling (G3) at Newbury, where her immaturity and a modestly difficult trip resulted in her uncorking a rally that came too late. I didn't handicap or play the Guineas at all but felt sick to my stomach when I saw that she had returned $88.20 in the U.S. pools (she was only 28-1 in the UK).

Elmalka still takes a long while to get going, and frankly will not offer much value compared to what she has in her recent starts.

Race 6 — 12:40 p.m. ET — King Edward VII (G2)

#1 Agenda (7-2) was a clear second last out to the ill-fated Hidden Law in the Chester Vase (G3), a race that might have propelled the winner to Derby favoritism if he had not suffered a fatal injury on the gallop out. Epsom was not the agenda for Agenda, especially when Coolmore already had City of Troy, but this is a logical next stop for a colt that remains open to a lot more improvement. By Galileo, he was produced by Different League, who pulled off a 20-1 upset of the Albany at the 2017 Royal meeting.

#10 Space Legend (5-1) is getting a lot of the early betting love after a rough-trip loss in the Cocked Hat S. at Goodwood last time. He didn't get clear sailing until late and was flying at the end, only for the wire to come too soon. A son of Sea the Stars, he's sure to enjoy the step up to 1 1/2 miles.

#2 Calandagan (5-1) won back-to-back French classic trials at Longchamp, albeit over ground much softer than what he'll run over here. As a gelding, he was ineligible for the main prizes there (or here for that matter), but this will represent a solid test of that form.

#5 Diego Velazquez (10-1) has generally faced better, but hard to get a read on how good he really is. Perhaps will be a touch overbet as the choice of jockey Ryan Moore. #13 Voyage (15-1) is best known as the loose horse who beat City of Troy and the rest to the finish at the Derby after losing his jockey soon out of the gate. We'll see how capable he is having to carry 128 pounds the full 1 1/2 miles this time.