Following on from the historical connections between the Kentucky Derby and Royal Ascot, two contemporary Derby-winning trainers will go head-to-head in the opening event of the Royal meeting on Tuesday morning. And later on the card, Thunder Snow, famous for his bucking exhibition in the 143rd renewal of the Derby on May 6, will be in action.
Todd Pletcher, who took his first Derby with Super Saver (2010) and just won Derby 143 with Always Dreaming, and Graham Motion, who saddled 2011 Derby hero Animal Kingdom, both have horses in the Queen Anne (G1). Named for the founder of Royal Ascot in 1711, the Queen Anne is held over one mile down the straight course. It’s the race that Animal Kingdom famously flopped in back in 2013, and more happily, that two-time American champion turf mare Tepin captured last year.
You can watch the Queen Anne, with a scheduled post time of 9:30 a.m. (EDT), and wager on TwinSpires.com. The heavy favorite is Godolphin’s British-based Ribchester.
Pletcher’s hope is American Patriot, coming off a new career high in the April 14 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland. The WinStar homebred had run on the 2016 Derby undercard, but didn’t put his best foot forward when a slow-starting 10th in the American Turf (G2). International ace Frankie Dettori, the leading active rider at Royal Ascot with 56 career victories during the June extravaganza, has the mount.
Motion sends out multiple Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City against the boys. She’s already beaten American males in a pair of major races at Keeneland in last year’s Maker’s 46 and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). Fourth in both of her previous tries at Royal Ascot (in different races), Miss Temple City was expected to prep on Derby Day in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), the race that Tepin owned in 2015-2016. But Motion decided to scratch her due to the rain-affected course, so Miss Temple City will be making her first start of the campaign here. Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, famous for riding 2006 Derby legend Barbaro, stays aboard.
Tepin isn’t defending her title in the Queen Anne, since she’s now retired to the broodmare life. But her trainer, Mark Casse (who had fourth-placer Classic Empire in this year’s Derby), is back at Royal Ascot with La Coronel. Last seen landing the Edgewood (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day, La Coronel races on Friday in the Coronation S. (G1) for sophomore fillies.
Thunder Snow will contest Royal Ascot’s premier race for three-year-old milers, Tuesday’s St James’s Palace (G1), at 11:20 a.m. (EDT). The Godolphin colt, on his best behavior since his Kentucky Derby fiasco, will try to topple Aidan O’Brien’s highly regarded Churchill. Having to settle for second to Churchill in the May 27 Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) last time out, Thunder Snow has his work cut out for him to overturn the form. Godolphin’s leading chance at pulling the upset is Barney Roy.
The St James’s Palace includes two alumni of the Kentucky Derby trail. Churchill’s stablemate, Lancaster Bomber, was a good fourth to Thunder Snow in the UAE Derby (G2). Lacking the points to make it to Churchill Downs, Lancaster Bomber was considering the Preakness (G1) before ultimately staying home.
Thunder Snow photo courtesy Churchill Downs/Coady Photography