When juveniles return from Royal Ascot, they’re often ready to win

September 13th, 2023

Royal Ascot. It’s one of the most prestigious race meets in the world. Win a race during one of those five June days at Ascot in England, and you’ll forever be a part of history.

American participation at Royal Ascot used to be slim to none, but in recent years it’s become commonplace. Every year a sizable number of U.S. horses, particularly juveniles, make their way across the pond to Ascot. Occasionally they win, but more often they lose—that’s just the nature of horse racing, particularly at an ultra-competitive meet like Royal Ascot.

Here’s the thing: a loss at Royal Ascot shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light. It’s common to see American juveniles show promise when debuting stateside, fall to defeat at Royal Ascot, and then bounce back like nothing happened when they return to the United States.

American juveniles face a lot of obstacles competing at Royal Ascot. They have to ship to England, tackle an undulating straight turf course, and face off against as many as 20 or more rivals. If an American juvenile overcomes all these obstacles to win, you’re looking at a mighty fine racehorse. And if they finish way off the board, they can still turn out to be stakes-caliber when they return home to the U.S.

Examples are numerous. Here are a few:

  • Golden Pal finished second in his debut at Gulfstream Park, then improved to finish second in Royal Ascot’s Norfolk (G2). After returning to the U.S., Golden Pal wrapped up his juvenile campaign with victories in the Skidmore S. and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
  • Kimari smashed her debut at Keeneland by 15 lengths, then ran second in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot. Back home in the U.S., Kimari won the Bolton Landing S. and Indian Summer S. in fine fashion.
  • Twilight Gleaming finished second and first in her first two U.S. starts, then shipped to Royal Ascot to finish second in the Queen Mary (G2). She stayed abroad for a victory in the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge at Deauville in France, then returned to the U.S. to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
  • Love Reigns romped by 9 3/4 lengths in her debut at Keeneland before finishing fourth in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot. Missing the trifecta across the pond didn’t stop Love Reigns from snagging a 2 1/2-length victory in the Bolton Landing S. upon returning to the U.S.
  • No Nay Mets kicked off his career with a victory in Gulfstream’s Royal Palm Juvenile S. before misfiring when ninth in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot. Upon returning to the U.S., he shrugged off that Ascot defeat to win the Tyro S. and Rosie’s S. in succession.

The next time you see an American juvenile return to the U.S. off a defeat at Royal Ascot—even a bad defeat—give them a close look. Back at home against easier competition, they have every chance to vie for victory.