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2018 Royal Ascot Breeders' Cup Qualifying Races
Royal Ascot Schedule and Odds
Given the ongoing success of European-based turf runners that ship to the US to compete in the Breeders' Cup turf races, tracking the horses racing overseas is always a good part of a BC handicapping game plan. If the Queen hasn't sent you an invitation to come over and watch the races in person, the NBC Sports Network is carrying all the Royal Ascot Breeders' Cup WAYI races live each day. Given the time difference, however, you may need to set the PVR.
Queen Anne Stakes (Breeders' Cup Mile)
Kicking things off on Tuesday morning, the Queen Anne Stakes gave a glimpse as to how lucrative the betting can be at Royal Ascot, with large fields of very good horses. The race featured a couple of names familiar to Breeders' Cup fans, including Rhododendron who finished second in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Suedois, who ran fourth in the 2017 Mile, missing out on second by less than a half length.
Despite all the star power, the Queen Anne was won by 33-1 long shot Accidental Agent, who came into the race without a win in his last four starts. He was followed to the wire by 20-1 Lord Glitters and 10-1 Lightning Spear, and has now earned a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on November 3.
Prince of Wales Stakes (Breeders' Cup Turf)
Wednesday's 1 1/4 mile Prince of Wales Stakes features a European superstar in Cracksman (the 4-7 favorite in Bovada's racebook), who may very well come to Churchill Downs as the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Turf, depending on how the next few months go. Trained by Jon Gosden and sired by the legendary Frankel, Cracksman has won seven of nine races lifetime and has never finished out of the money. Last out he won at the 1 1/2 mile BC Turf distance in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs, although he managed that win by just a head as the favorite.
Given that his only two defeats last year came at 1 1/2 miles, the distance could be his Achilles heel. Others to watch in the Prince of Wales are Poet's Word (7-2) who comes in off a Group 3 win at Sandown, and Hawkbill (10-1) who ran second in the (G1) Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine last September.
The Prince of Wales Stakes goes Wednesday, June 20 with a post time of 11:20 AM Eastern.
Norfolk Stakes (Juvenile Turf Sprint)
This one will be interesting to watch as the winner qualifies for the Juvenile Turf Sprint, which for 2018 is a brand-new race on the Breeders' Cup schedule. The early favorite for the race is actually a Florida-bred filly named Shang Shang Shang, trained by US-based Wesley Ward and ridden by US jockey Joel Rosario. What's most interesting about her is that her only lifetime start came back in April in a 4 1/2 furlong race on the dirt - where she missed the track record by less than a half-second - but Ward obviously feels she's a turfer.
Lining up to take her on is Koncheck, winner of one of two starts so far, and Vintage Brut, who beat that one last out in a listed stakes race at Sandown just less than a month ago for his second consecutive win in two tries.
The Norfolk goes Thursday, June 21 with a post time of 9:30 AM Eastern.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint)
Wrapping things up on Saturday, the winner of the Diamond Jubillee Stakes will earn qualification in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. The six-furlong race has drawn a large field, and topping the Bovada odds at 5-2 is Harry Angel, a four-year-old colt who has run first or second in eight-of-nine races lifetime, with wins in three of his last four. Also in the field is last year's winner The Tin Man (8-1) and long shot Washington DC (20-1), who was eighth in the BC Turf Sprint last year.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes goes Saturday, June 24 with a post time of 11:20 AM Eastern.
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Conor McGregor is a legendary UFC fighter. Not many combatants can take a year off from fighting, announce their next bout, and instantly be established as the overwhelming odds-on favorite in the UFC 257 picks. Yet that's exactly how The Notorious one rolls. He will headline UFC 257 on Jan. 23, facing Dustin Poirier in a rematch of former UFC world lightweight champs. McGregor is the -235 favorite in the bout.