Underdog Might Stick His Nose in Royal Ascot Business

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 4:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018 4:21 PM UTC

Order Of St. George and Stradivarius are the futures co-favorites for Thursday's Royal Ascot 2018 in Berkshire, England, but 6-year-old gelding Vazirabad could be ready to crash the party.

With Justify going wire-to-wire to win the Belmont Stakes and become the 13th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history, all eyes now focus on three upcoming events: the Royal Ascot 2018 (Gold Cup, G1) from Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England, on Thursday (post time 11:20 a.m. ET); the Travers Stakes (G1) from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, on Aug. 25; and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) from Longchamp Racecourse in Paris on Oct. 7.

Inaugurated in 1807, the (Royal) Ascot Gold Cup (coverage on NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET) is a 2-mile, 3-furlong and 210-yard race (4,014 meters) for 4-year-old and older thoroughbreds and was won by Big Orange last year (4:22:40) and by this year’s co-favorite — Order Of St. George (+175 to win 2018 Royal Ascot, Bovada) — in 2016. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the Irish-bred Order Of St. George (13-6-1 in 24 career starts) and the John Gosden-trained 4-year-old colt Stradivarius (+175, 5-1-2 in 10 career starts), who will be coming in off a win in the Yorkshire Cup (G2), were the co-favorites three days out.

The 2018 Royal Ascot (NBCSN) is Tuesday through Sunday, with four of the event’s races providing winners with automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series at Churchill Downs (Nov. 2-3).

The winners of the Queen Anne Stakes (Tuesday, BC Mile Qualifier), the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Wednesday, BC Turf Qualifier), the Norfolk Stakes (Thursday, BC Juvenile Turf Sprint Qualifier) and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Saturday, also a BC Turf Sprint Qualifier) will all earn a coveted trip to Louisville in November for the Super Bowl of Horse Racing.

Royal Ascot 2018 Futures Odds

(June 18, Bovada)
Order Of St. George +175
Stradivarius +175
Vazirabad +400
Torcedor +800
Desert Skyline +1200
Idaho +1200
Max Dynamite +2000
Sheikhzayedroad +2500
Gold Star +4000
Mount Moriah +4000
Scotland +5000

Travers Stakes Futures Odds

(June 18, Bovada)
Justify -150
Gronkowski +450
Hofburg +500
Good Magic +600
Audible +800
Vino Rosso +1400
Lone Sailor +1600
My Boy Jack +1600
Mendelssohn +2000
McKinzie +2500
Bravazo +3300
Bolt d’Oro +5000
Instilled Regard +5000
Solomini +5000
Firenze Fire +6600

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Futures Odds

(June 18, Bovada)
Cracksman +275
Enable +450
Masar +1000
Saxon Warrior +1200
Forever Together +1400
Study of Man +1400
Shahnaza +1600
Crystal Ocean +2000
Defoe +2000
Lah Ti Dar +2000
Rhododendron +2000
Hydrangea +2500
Soul Stirring +2500
Brametot +3300
Cloth of Stars +3300
Elarqam +3300
Kiseki +3300
Order Of St. George +3300
Amedeo Modigliani +4000
Nelson +4000
Poets Word +4000
The Pentagon +4000
Happily +5000
Laurens +5000
Tocco Damore +5000
Zarkimaya +5000
Kew Gardens +10000

Baffert Non-Committal on Justify’s Next Race

There has been no official word on what’s next for Justify (6-0-0 in 6 career starts), with a trip to the Travers Stakes and the “Graveyard of Champions” on Aug. 25 and potential showdown with the Todd Pletcher-trained Audible still maybe wishful thinking at this point, with Baffert saying, “I haven’t sat down with Elliott (Walden, president of WinStar Farm, which co-owns the horse along with China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners) or anything,” after the Belmont Stakes earlier this month.

“We still can’t believe we went through this. It’s the longest, quickest journey we’ve ever been on,” Baffert said of Justify’s journey which saw a horse who didn’t race as a 2-year-old win his first race, two more races (including the prestigious Santa Anita Derby) as well as all three legs (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) of the Triple Crown (Will There be a Triple Crown Winner in 2019? No -450, Yes +850, Bovada) in a quick 111 days.

So, no word yet on chestnut wonder-colt ’s participation in the so-called “Mid-Summer Derby” — the third-ranked race for North American 3-year-olds — a race Baffert won in 2016 and 2017 with Arrogate and West Coast, with a report that Baffert would be entering Justify in the Haskell Stakes on July 29 dubbed "fake news" by Baffert on Monday, with the Hall of Fame trainer saying, “We’ll sit down and figure it out. We’ll let the horse tell us.”

Royal Ascot 2018 Winner Pick: Vazirabad 4/1 (Bovada)

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