June 18 (UPI) -- Another spectacular Royal Ascot carries the horse racing world through a week that will help set the agenda for a lot of future events from Europe to California and likely to Australia.
Love, Palace Pier, Poetic Flair and Subjectivist were among the equine stars of the first three days of the five-day Royal Meeting, which saw a limited return of well-dressed racegoers after last year's races were held behind COVID-closed doors.
Otherwise, a smattering of graded stakes keep the sport ticking over in North America, including a long-delayed renewal at Woodbine as Canada inches out of pandemic restrictions.
Let's start by skimming the highlights of the first three days of Royal Ascot, with an eye toward what that spectacular meeting bodes for the future.
Subjectivist, a 4-year-old Teofilo colt, announced he's for real at the top level among stayers, winning Thursday's big race, the Group 1 Gold Cup, by 5 lengths as 7-year-old Stradivarius, seeking his fourth straight win in the event, finished fourth.
That may not represent a changing of the guard though as Stradivarius was badly blocked through a good part of the stretch and Subjectivist was home free before his rival saw daylight.
Also Thursday, 14-1 long shot Perfect Power won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds by a head over Go Bears Go, earning a "Win and You're In" berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. The Ardad colt is trained by Richard Fahey.
Wednesday's Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes was a front-running tour de force for Coolmore's star filly Love.
The daughter of Galileo not only made all while coming off a 300-day layoff but then survived a late bid by last year's Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Audarya to win by 3/4 length.
That earned Love a "Win and You're In" spot in this year's Longines Breeders' Cup Turf but "the lads" presumably have an eye on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe first.
Palace Pier opened proceedings on Tuesday with a 1 1/2-lengths score in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.
The 4-year-old Kingman colt, with Frankie Dettori up for John and Thady Gosden, won for the eighth time from nine starts and clearly has bragging rights at Europe's, if not Earth's, best miler. Maybe he can settle that at Del Mar as he earned a "Win and You're In" spot in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile.
Nipping at Palace Pier's heels, though, is Poetic Flair, 4 1/4-lengths winner of Tuesday's Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes for 3-year-olds, also at 1 mile.
The Dawn Approach colt won the Qipco 2000 Guineas and finished second in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas before the St James's Palace score. A PP vs PP showdown will be something to see.
Oxted came from the clouds to win the third Group 1 on Opening Day, the King's Stand Stakes at 5 furlongs, by 1 3/4 lengths. Extravagant Kid, the U.S.-trained winner of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, finished third.
Through the first three days, the racing fates were not kind to Americans in Ascot. Trainer Wesley Ward remained winless with seven starters, taking some solace in a second-place finish by Twilight Gleaming in the Group 2 Queen Mary for 2-year-old fillies on Wednesday.
Ward's best chance may be Campanelle in Friday's Group 1 Commonwealth. The Kodiac filly won the Queen Mary at last year's Royal Meeting and then crossed the Channel to win the Group 1 Darley Prix Morny at Deauville. She will have to beat 19 others, colt and fillies, in the Commonwealth.
Meanwhile, in France:
Sunday's Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines or French Oaks at Chantilly has a wide-open field of 18. The lukewarm favorites are Godolphin filly Philomene, trained by Andre Fabre, and Joan of Arc, a Coolmore filly trained by Aidan O'Brien.
It's a long way down the list before we find anything that would be a surprise as the winner.
Meanwhile, back in North America:
Saturday's $100,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita drew a field of six to tackle 1 3/4 miles. The 9-5 favorite on the morning line is Acclimate, second in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes over the course in his last start. The 7-year-old Acclamation gelding won this event in 2019.
Filly & Mare Turf
Sixteen fillies and mares are signed on for Sunday's contentious $150,000 Grade III Eatontown at Monmouth Park with four of those on the also-eligible list. Many are graded stakes-tested, but Nay Lady Nay and Counterparty Risk will attract support as they're both trained by Chad Brown.
Sunday's $250,000 Grade III Poker at Belmont Park has nine set to go a mile on the greensward. What to make of Veronesi, a 5-year-old by Kendargent, whose last start produced a fourth-place finish in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Niel Sept. 15, 2019?
He's the third of a Chad Brown-trained trio that also includes Front Run the Fed and Raging Bull. Get Smokin and Sanctuary City have been good recently.
Sunday's $100,000 Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita has a field of six. Restrainedvengeance exits a third in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile. Majestic Eagle was second in the Daytona in his last outing. Neptune's Storm has been idle since finishing fourth in the rich Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs last September.
Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Wilshire Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita got eight takers. Warren's Showtime is aptly named with four thirds from her last five starts, but may have found a comfortable spot here. Leggs Galore won the Fran's Valentine in her last start.
Filly & Mare Sprint
While Wesley Ward is having his issues at Ascot, he also has the 2-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Whimsical Stakes on the Woodbine all-weather course.
Artie's Princess, a 4-year-old filly by We Miss Artie, wound up 2020 with two wins at Woodbine and, after the long delay in opening the 2021 season, makes her seasonal debut here. Boardroom and Summer Sunday figure among seven rivals.
Pink Lloyd is back in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Jacques Cartier on the Woodbine all-weather. The Old Forester gelding, now 9, is one of Canada's all-time favorites with 26 wins from 33 starts and several breathtaking winning streaks.
He finished third in the Grade III Kennedy Road to end the 2020 season, ending a five-race win skein. He has won this event in each of the past four seasons. Welcome back and bon chance!
Sundays $100,000 (Canadian) Woodstock Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Woodbine all-weather has two from Ward's barn -- Outadore and Chasing Artie. Jaxon Traveler should provide plenty of competition.