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Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Keeneland): McKulick Top Class Since Winning Her Debut

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated October 14, 2022
17 min read

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
R Bejarano G Leonard III
F Prat C Brown
3 SHE’S GONE 15/1
L Saez V Oliver
T Gaffalione B Walsh
U Rispoli P D’Amato
I Ortiz Jr C Brown
F Geroux J Harrington

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$5 Exacta Box – McKulick, Bellabel and Paris Peacock = $30

$10 Trifecta Key – McKulick over Bellabel, Gina Romantica and Paris Peacock = $30

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick McKulick (7/5).



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Queen Elizabeth Ii Challenge Cup Bejarano

Led by Grade 1 winner McKulick, trainer Chad Brown brings a formidable pair to Keeneland for Saturday’s $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, a Grade 1 affair on the turf for 3-year-old fillies.

Never out of the money in seven career starts, the English-bred daughter of Frankel has proven to be one of the best young turf females in the nation, with two wins and a second in New York’s Turf Triple series for the fillies.

Most recently, McKulick was a measured winner of the $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks at Aqueduct. Before that she won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks and was then second in the $700,000 Saratoga Oaks.

Among her chief opposition in the 9-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup will be her stablemate, Gina Romantica.

The daughter of Into Mischief was a gaining second in the Grade 3 Pebbles most recently at Aqueduct. In her start before that she impressively won the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga in her turf debut.

The top challenger to the Brown duo looks to be the Irish import, Bellabel. Trained by Phil D’Amato, the daughter of Belardo has run three strong races in Southern California since coming to the U.S.

Wins in the Blue Norther in January and then the Grade 2 San Clemente in July began her American career. Her winning streak was snapped last out when second to the classy Spendarella in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Predictions and Race Analysis


This daughter of Frankel has been top class since winning in her debut last summer at Saratoga. Graduating right to graded stakes racing, she has been competitive in all six of her tries in graded company.

She had to miss the Breeders’ Cup last fall and took a race or two before running her absolute best this year, but she has been very strong in her last three, with two wins in a second at three different tracks in New York’s Turf Triple for fillies.

It’s worth noting that her two graded stakes victories have come in races longer than this, but with good tactical speed under rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. she does look like a filly that can win at 9-furlongs as well. The class of the field, she is my top pick.

Gina Romantica

The ‘other’ Brown filly showed some promise on dirt before switching to grass two starts back. The result of the change of surface has been positive as she has exchanged decisions with Faith in Humanity in a pair of stakes races in New York.

Unlike her stablemate, though, who was running against top competition, this daughter of Into Mischief was running in a little bit of lesser fields in her stakes efforts.

Still, her turf career has gotten off to a promising start and further improvement makes her a serious threat here. As the likely second choice, though, I am looking for a little better value with a few others.


After a decent 2-year-old season in Ireland, this granddaughter of Lope de Vega has turned things up a notch since importing to the United States. A win in the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita back in January pointed out her fondness for American racing, but a layoff followed.

Upon her return to the races for trainer Phil D’Amato, she ran a big race to easily dispatch a field of 12 in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar. Last out she ran another big race to finish second best behind the very talented Spendarell in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

It looks like she has enough tactical speed to be in touch early and the 9-furlong trip should suit her.  I see her as the biggest threat to the favorite on Saturday.



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California Angel

This daughter of California Chrome closed with a rush a year ago to get up late and win the Grade 2 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland at odds of 17/1. She will likely have solid odds again here, but without much early pace to set the table, I wonder if her rally will be as effective.

Trained by George Leonard, she will be making her second start off a six-month layoff. Her return race was not bad, finishing third in the Dueling Ground Oaks at Kentucky Downs.

She is a filly of some ability, and like everyone in this field, I cannot completely dismiss her, but I just don’t believe this race sets up very well for her.

New Year’s Eve

This daughter of Kitten’s Joy pulled off a nice upset, winning the Grade 2 Edgewood over McKulick four starts back at odds of 14/1.

Unfortunately, while the race favorite has clearly moved forward off that Kentucky Derby day race, this one has not found much success in three races since. The best of the three came in the Saratoga Oaks when she finished third.

Coming off a fourth-place finish at Kentucky Downs, she is not likely to get the pace set up that suits her. She is not out of it, but I prefer others.



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Paris Peacock

This Irish-based filly has broken through with two consecutive hard-fought victories at Gowran Park. The second of which came in Group 3 company.

In a race without much early pace, she looks to have the early speed to be able to stay close early under rider Florent Geroux. If she takes to American-style racing, she likely has the ability to compete with these fillies.

Going good right now, I believe she is a threat in here at what should be attractive odds. I will use her in my exotics.

She’s Gone

After having broken her maiden at Indiana Downs in her fifth try for trainer Vicky Oliver, this daughter of Curlin is on the improve of late.

A just miss allowance effort at Ellis Park was followed by a late rush to win at Kentucky Downs at odds of 12/1. While she is clearly better than ever, her connections have found a difficult spot for her stakes debut.

She is not completely out of it, but still deserving of being the longest shot in the field. I am looking elsewhere.



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How to Watch the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Race Information
What Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Grade 1)
Location Keeneland
Time Saturday, October 15 — 5:16 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $600,000
21+ | Terms and conditions apply
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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

281 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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