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Check out our predictions and odds for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland!
|MISSION OF JOY
|H G Motion
|S bin Suroor
|BE YOUR BEST
|R Santana Jr
|H De Paz
|SOUNDS OF HEAVEN
|I Ortiz Jr
|FREYDIS THE RED
|B J Hernandez Jr
Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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Away since winning a classic in England, Mawj returns to headline an overflow field of 3-year-old turf females in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Saturday.
Unbeaten in three starts this year, the daughter of Exceed and Excel scored in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas in May at Newmarket when last seen.
A Group 2 winner as a 2-year-old, she won two races in Dubai to begin her 2023 season for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Chief among her challengers in the 9-furlong grass affair will be the French-bred filly Elusive Princess.
After being competitive in a pair of Group 1 races in her native land, the bay filly was transferred to America and the barn of Arnaud Delacaour.
In her first and only start in the U.S., she found the soft turf to her liking, and she romped home an easy winner in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational two months ago.
Lindy has also made only one start in America since arriving from France. It came after winning an allowance race at Kentucky Downs last month for new trainer Brendan Walsh.
This Godolphin homebred has been all class since winning her debut back in May of 2022. The winner of 5-of-8 lifetime, she has done all her racing in either England or Dubai.
After a solid season at 2, she was a good winner of two races early this year in Dubai, before winning a filly classic at Newmarket. Her win in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas proved her a top class turf filly.
Away since that win six months ago, she will be the one to beat here. This is a furlong farther and has drawn a deep field, but her class should tell. She is the top pick.
Clearly a nice filly overseas, this French-bred made a strong American debut with an easy win in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks. It was her first start for the barn of Arnaud Delacour.
Off that victory, she is obviously a threat in here and a deserving second choice, but it is worth noting that all of her best victories have come over soft turf.
The turf will not be soft on Saturday at Keeneland. For that reason, I am liking a few others better in this spot, but I do respect her class.
Like Elusive Princess, this stakes winning French filly will be making her second start since being transferred to the United Stakes.
Her win in her American debut was not as flashy as the other filly, but it came on better ground and in Kentucky. With that performance under her belt, I expect a strong effort here.
The 9 furlong distance seems to suit her. She knows how to win, and has kept top company. I consider her the biggest threat to the top pick on Saturday.
This English-bred daughter of Kingman will look to bounce back after finishing sixth last time in a Group 1 race in France. That effort came on a soft turf course, however, and she should appreciate a firmer turf which she will see on Saturday in Kentucky.
In her first two starts of 2023, the lightly raced filly won a stakes race at York, before running a very good third in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot.
Both races came on courses rated good/firm. The miler will stretch out to 9 furlongs here, but I believe she has the class to be a real threat.
The talented international runners continue with this daughter of Australia. Most recently, she was a Group 3 winner in France, which came two months ago.
It also came at a flat mile, which seems to be her preferred distance. She will be stretching out an extra furlong on Saturday in her American debut.
This will be a test, going farther than she has ever before and against a world class field, but she has a very nice record in Europe and must be considered a threat.
Like most in the field, this Irish import is a stakes winner, and hers came over the Keeneland turf course. It came back in April in the Grade 2 Appalachian Stakes going a mile.
She has lost her last four, but has continued to run well in each. Having said that, she has won only once in six American starts and this looks to be her toughest test yet.
Given her consistency, I considered her as an exotics player, but in the end I like a few others a bit better than this Mark Casse-trained runner.
The first of two for top turf trainer Chad Brown, this daughter of Upstart is the most lightly raced filly in the field. Still, she is a graded stakes winner at the distance, having taken the Grade 2 Wonder Again at Belmont Park.
She has been beaten in her last two, but ran well to finish second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks at 10 furlongs, before finishing fifth last time on a good turf course in the Lake Placid.
I think she can bounce back with a better effort on Saturday and she should be considered a threat in this Grade 1 affair.
A stakes winner at 2, this Horacio De Paz-trained filly looks to be an interesting longshot on Saturday. Although she has yet to win in four starts this season, she has turned in some nice performances.
I especially like her two performances at the same 9-furlong distance which she will find here.Three starts back she just missed in the Wonder Again.
Last out, she came on for second to the very good filly Anisette in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. I expect her to make a good run here and will be included in my exotics.
Bred in Canada, this filly has disappointed in her last two. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy finished out of the money in the Belmont Oaks and Virginia Oaks, both times as the favorite.
She did start her career on grass with four wins in her first five tries for trainer Graham Motion, however, which included a win in the Grade 3 Regret.
Still, things only get tougher in this spot. Like every filly in the field, I cannot completely dismiss her, but there are others I like better.
The second of two for trainer Chad Brown, this daughter of War Front scored in the Wild Applause Stakes at Belmont three starts back.
Her rally has fallen a bit short in the last two in New York, however. All three of those races were at a flat mile.
It’s possible that the stakes winner could bounce back here, but given the class and depth of this field, it’s hard to pick her out as a top contender in a race farther than she has ever run before. I prefer others on Saturday.
This graded stakes winner looks to be the speed of the field on Saturday. Trained by Brad Cox, she has gone right to the lead in her last four starts, and has stayed on well in all but the last one.
Three starts back, she went gate to wire in the Grade 2 Edgewood at Churchill Downs, and before that, she had run well over the Keeneland turf course.
With all the classy challengers in here, she cannot be my pick, but if they leave her alone for too long in this Grade 1, she could become a brave challenger down the Keeneland stretch.
Despite possibly being the longest shot on the oddsboard on Saturday, this daughter of War Front has run several nice races, including a win in the Pucker Up Stakes two starts back.
In fact, other than a poor performance last time in Dueling Ground Oaks, which may have been too long for her, she has been very consistent for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
She has good tactical speed and should be involved early. You could do worse than tabbing her as a longshot to throw in the exotics.
Freydis the Red is also on the eligible list and will only run if another horse is scratched. If she does draw in, she is one to consider after rallying to victory in the Dueling Ground Oaks last time out at Kentucky Downs.
Her lack of early speed, however, combined with the depth of this race, would have me liking others better on Saturday.
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Race Information
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup predictions and best bets are here! See the full race analysis and odds for Keeneland this Saturday!
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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