York: Spot Plays for Day 1 of 2023 Ebor Festival
The four-day Ebor Festival at York opens Wednesday, unfortunately with small fields in the three Group events. Only six two-year-olds were declared for the Acomb (G3), five three-year-olds for the Great Voltigeur (G2), and only three are set to take on four-time Group 1 star Paddington in the Juddmonte International (G1).
I'll forego getting involved in the International and instead look beyond the favorites in the first two stakes of fixture.
Race 2: Acomb (G3), 9:25 a.m.
#1 Ballymount Boy is a deserving favorite having just missed by a length in the Richmond (G2) to Vandeek, who last weekend took the Prix Morny (G1). However, there are other promising sorts in this straight seven-furlong test.
Beaten by a previous winner in his Newbury debut in early July, #5 Indian Run (7-1) reappeared on King George Day at Ascot three weeks later and charged home to a 1 1/2-length win over next-out scorer Kingdom of Riches in a lucrative maiden going six furlongs.
Indian Run shouldn't mind the extra furlong and is proven on the good-to-firm ground he's likely to see.
Race 3: Great Voltigeur (G2), 10 a.m. ET
This St Leger (G1) trial has a strong favorite in the undefeated #1 Gregory, who was last seen taking the Queen's Vase (G2) at Royal Ascot. I'm hoping the cutback of a quarter-mile to 1 1/2 miles, and the seeming lack of pace on paper, benefits #4 Castle Way (3-1).
Castle Way, who has shown a bit more speed in his races than Gregory, enters off of a photo finish victory in the Bahrain Trophy (G3) at Newmarket over a furlong longer. He, too, defeated Saint George, whom Gregory had handed defeat in the Queen's Vase, so the form lines are somewhat similar. Castle Way also gets the benefit of a three-pound concession from Gregory.