Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Keeneland) Predictions, Top Picks, Odds

Post Position and Odds Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
F Geroux B Cox
J Ortiz C Brown
F Prat C Brown
J Velazquez A O’Brien
5 NICEST 8/1
J Leparoux D O’Brien
T Gaffalione M McCarthy
E Wilson R Attfield
R Bejarano V Oliver
B Hernandez Jr W Haggas
U Rispoli C Gaines

Best Bets for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$10 Exacta Box – Empress Josephine and Shantisara = $20

$6 Exacta part wheel – Empress Josephine over Flippant and Cloudy Dawn = $12

$4 Exacta part wheel – Flippant and Cloudy Dawn over Empress Josephine = $8

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Empress Josephine (4/1).

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Chad Brown’s talented pair of Irish-bred fillies Technical Analysis and Shantisara rate top billing in a strong field of ten sophomore fillies set to go to the post in Saturday’s 38th edition of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. On a major roll in major stakes of late, Brown has a big chance to add another with either filly.

Favoritism could fall to the two-time graded stakes winner, Technical Analysis. The daughter of Kingman comes into Saturday’s 9-furlong grass test off consecutive victories in the Grade 2 Lake Placid and the Grade 3 Lake George, both at Saratoga and has won four of her last five overall.

Shantisara, meanwhile, should also get plenty of support. After beginning her career in France, the Coulsty filly has made three starts in America. She finished second in the Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park, before winning both the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington and the $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks at Belmont Park.

The biggest threat to Brown domination in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup looks to be the European contingent. Chief among them is the AIden O’Brien trained Empress Josephine.

Also an Irish-bred, she is a Group 1 winner in her native land, who has run one race so far in America. That came just seven days ago when she finished a good third against older mares in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Predictions

Technical Analysis

The first of two from the powerhouse barn of Chad Brown, this daughter of Kingman looks good on paper, having won a pair of graded stakes this summer at America’s top race meeting. Although she has done little wrong of late, I do believe that the two recent graded stakes wins at Saratoga came up a little light in class compared to what we usually see at the Spa.

Still, she is moving in the right direction and has good tactical speed from her inside post. It’s very possible that she is developing into a very serious turf filly, but I am going to try to beat her as the most likely favorite.


It’s hard to knock the other Chad Brown filly either. Based in Europe for the early part of her career, she is making the most of her new home in the United States.

Improving with each start, she looked the part of a good filly, rolling past the field in a graded stakes at Arlington Park, before pulling off a minor upset against a tough field in the rich Jockey Club Oaks last time at Belmont.

This isn’t any easier, as she cuts back two furlongs and takes on Grade 1 fillies, but the way she has progressed in her top barn has me believing she can keep it going.

Empress Josephine

Coming back after only a week’s rest, this beautifully bred daughter of Galileo should be sharp as a tack as she attempts to better her third-place result in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland.

That one came against older females, so this should be an easier spot overall, but not by much. Beaten only a length in that 12-horse field, a similar performance here would make her tough to beat.

Over in Europe, she was a bit inconsistent, but ran against top competition and did make a big score in the Group 1 Irish One Thousand Guineas for trainer Aiden O’Brien. She is the top pick in a very tough race.


Although she has won only a debut maiden out of six career starts, this daughter of American Pharoah seemed to turn a corner this summer.

Trained by Donnacha O’Brien, she has finished in the money in her last two races, both of which came against strong competition.

Two starts back, she was third in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, and last time she finished third behind Snowfall in the Group 1 Irish Oaks. Both of those efforts came at 12 furlongs, though, and it’s been 3 months in between starts, so I do wonder how sharp she will be for her first race in America.


Another filly who has never been better, this Vicky Oliver-trainee lost her first four, but has now rattled off three straight wins.

With a powerful closing kick, her streak began with a maiden win at Ellis Park in July, where she also won the Dueling Ground Oaks preview a month later.

On August 31, she turned in her best effort yet, exploding from way back to win going away in the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs in course record time. Bred to be a good one, she will face her toughest competition yet on Saturday, but looks to be a long shot in with a chance.

Cloudy Dawn

This filly from Europe has never finished worse than second in six career starts.

Most of those efforts, which includes four wins, have come against a level or two below what she will see in her U.S. debut, but in her latest, she moved nicely up in class to win at Deauville. That victory, two months ago in the Group 3 Prix De Lieurey was over a solid field of 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by William Haggas, the gray daughter of Kodiac is both consistent and improving. She certainly merits serious consideration in her American debut.

Burning Ambition

Trained by Brad Cox, this daughter of Uncle Mo sizzled home last time, winning the Indiana Grand Stakes by 7 lengths while wrapped up late. It was her fourth consecutive victory and came in her stakes debut.

As good as she looked, Saturday’s race promises to be a very large jump up in class. She has the tactical speed to take the race to Technical Analysis early and coming off that performance, she should be respected.

I am taking a stand that the class bump will be a bit too much for her, but it’s hard to discount her chances completely.

Lady Speightspeare

Another one who is really well-bred, the future looks very bright for this Canadian-based daughter of Speightstown.

Undefeated in three career starts, she was talented enough to win the Grade 1 Natalma at Woodbine in her second start.

Unfortunately, it was just about a year before she made it back to the races. Even in the hands of master trainer Roger Attfield, and with a solid allowance score in her return, I cannot be confident that she will be ready for such a difficult task as this Grade 1 race promises to be.

Closing Remarks

This California-bred daughter of Vronsky has been nothing but solid in stakes racing out on the West Coast this year.

In fact, she has finished in the money in all six starts in 2021, all of which were stakes races. Having said that, she has not been able to break through with a victory in four tries against graded stakes competition.

Her latest, where she finished a good second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, was probably her best effort yet. Still, it does not have me believing in her chances against this difficult group.

Queen Goddess

This lightly raced daughter of Empire Maker probably deserves to be the longest shot of the ten in this field, but she is not without potential.

After finishing full of run to be second in her career debut only three months ago, she returned to win two straight at Del Mar.

While both the maiden win and the allowance win were solid enough, they did not demonstrate huge improvement over her debut. For that reason, and the big jump up in class, I do not endorse her chances here, but like many, she is one to keep an eye on down the road.

How to Watch the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Race Information
What Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup (Grade 1)
Where Keeneland
When Saturday, October 16 — 4:44pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $500,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

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.

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