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2010 Royal Ascot: Day 5 Results

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ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Johnny Murtagh and Starspangledbanner (striped capon rails) land The Golden Jubilee Stakes run on the 5th day of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2010 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Johnny Murtagh and Starspangledbanner (striped capon rails) land The Golden Jubilee Stakes run on the 5th day of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2010 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

Race

Winner

UK Odds

NA Odds

Chesham Stakes

Zaidan

7/1

9/1

G2 Hardwicke Stakes

Harbinger

8/11

3/5

G1 Golden Jubilee Stakes

Starspangledbanner

13/2

8/1

Wokingham Stakes

Laddies Poker Two

9/2

6/5 (field)

Duke of Edinburgh Handicap

Cill Rialaig

16/1

22/1

Que en Alexandra Stakes

Bergo

10/1

12/1

-It was a good day to be betting into the North American pool, as opposed to the U.K. bookmakers, as four of the six winners offered more generous odds on this side of the Atlantic.  One of the bigger exceptions on the day, however, was the Wokingham Stakes where Laddies Poker Two, a 9/2 shot in the U.K., paid a measly 6/5 here in the States.  This was due to the fact that the North American pool once again offered a "field" bet.  Needless to say, the field bet was a poor play in terms of value.

-Speaking of the Wokingham, that race may have been the biggest free-for-all I've ever seen; twenty-nine runners in an all-out, mad dash to the finish line.  Laddies Poker Two, who was prominent early on the stand side, simply ran away from the field inside the final furlong and a half in a powerful display of raw speed.  The final time of 1:12.27 was a new course record.

-You want to talk about a horse winning off of a lay-off?  Laddies Poker Two was making her first start in 610 days. 

-All was not well for everybody at this year's Royal Ascot meet as according to a Racing Post article the bookmakers were taken to the woodshed. 

Over here in the States, with our wagering all done under a pari-mutuel system, the results of the race are (essentially) irrelevant to the tracks, OTBs, ADWs, or anyone else taking the bets.  Across the Atlantic, where the odds are set and the action is taken by bookmakers, a bad odds line can cost you significant amounts of money.  That appears to be the case for the bookmakers at this year's Royal Ascot meeting.

The money quote from the Racing Post article came from Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams:

"Harbinger, Starspangledbanner and Laddies Poker Two were terrible results, all I can say is thank God for the England football team."

-All in all, I thought the five-day Royal Ascot meeting was a fantastic display of thoroughbred racing.  There were sprints, miles, classics, marathons, juvenile races, runaway winners, dueling finishes, and a good share of favorites and high priced winners.  

I've only causally observed Royal Ascot in the past and never really attempted to understand in any great detail the nuances of this prestigious meeting.  One of the factors that drew my attention this year was the success that Wesley Ward had in 2009, along with the horses that American trainers sent over this summer.  Let's face it, most of the turf racing in this county doesn't measure up to what takes place in Europe on a yearly basis.  Sure, American horses have beaten the Euros in the Breeders' Cup Turf on occasion, but many times it's the 2nd and 3rd tier horses that are shipping over, or it's the 1st tier horses that have gone through a long year and head to the Breeders' Cup for one final shot a glory.  We don't get See the Stars or Zarkava, we get Hurricane Run when he's clearly over-the-top.  When Europe does send over their top guns (Goldikova, Ouija Board, etc.), they are usually very successful.

I would love to see American grass racing improve to the point where we have horses that could compete in races like the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the English Derby, or any number of other great races that take place in Europe.  To do that, however, we have to start producing a greater number of quality mile and a half grass runners, something that just doesn't happen right now.  As the last two Royal Ascot meets have demonstrated, American horses can run in these meets and not get completely embarrassed by the competition, even if they aren't winning the big events.  But our success is limited to sprints and miles and to listed stakes races; the issue is one of breeding as much as it is training.

Perhaps the experimentations of Wesley Ward and Ken McPeek at Royal Ascot the last two years are the beginning of a change in attitude by American owners and trainers regarding top class European races.  We shall see.