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Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Quick Picks
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Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Quick Picks

by Laurie RossOctober 15, 2021

Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) attracted an international field of ten 3-year-old fillies who will run 1 1/8 miles over Keeneland’s turf course.

The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup is billed as race eight of ten on Saturday’s card, with a 4:44 PM ET post time.

Let’s take a quick look at the horses most likely to hit the board.

#3 Shantisara (IRE) (7-2)

Shantisara has won two of three starts since shipping to America. In her U.S. debut, she bobbled and had to steady at the start of the Boiling Springs Stakes, yet made up ground to finish second in the 1 1/6 mile event. Then, the Chad Brown trainee returned to win the 1 1 /8 mile Pucker Up (G3) and the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational (G1). Shantisara has tactical speed, making her the one to beat. Win contender.

#4 Empress Josephine (IRE) (3-1)

Empress Josephine is the class of the field. The Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1) winner got a feel for the Keeneland turf when she placed second in the one-mile First Lady Stakes (G1) against older horses in her last start. Over the last five years, trainer Aidan O’Brien has shipped a dozen horses to Keeneland, earning one victory and six runner-up finishes. Win contender.

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Quick Picks Empress Josephine

#7 Lady Speightspeare (8-1)

After winning the Natalma Stakes (G1) last year, Lady Speightspeare took time off due to a knee injury. However, the Roger Attfield trainee successfully returned against optional claimers as a prep for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Lady Speightspeare is a confirmed pacesetter, which fits the winning style for this race. Win contender.

#5 Nicest (IRE) (10-1)

Nicest has one victory, and three in the money finishes in six career starts. She’s been consistent if a touch below the top of the graded fillies in Ireland and Great Britain. Conditioned by Aidan O’Brien’s son Donnacha, Nicest finished a troubled third in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks (G1) in her last start but has the class to be competitive here. Exotics.

#6 Queen Goddess (30-1)

Queen Goddess jumps from optional claiming company into Grade 1 competition. At first glance, she appears up against it, but closer inspection reveals a potential bomb.

The Mike McCarthy trainee has won two of three starts, and fired a pre-race bullet work. McCarthy has shipped from California to Keeneland ten times in the last couple of years, earning a win and four in the money finishes. Tyler Gaffalione rides, and he is on fire this meet, with six in the money finishes from 14 starters. Live longshot.

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Analysis

Pacesetters and pressers have won seven of the last ten editions of this race. Six of this year’s entries like to be forwardly placed. This is a good lineup, and a case can be made for most of the field. However, longshots have scoring lately, and the favorite isn’t without her weaknesses.

  • #7 Lady Speightspeare (8-1)
  • #3 Shantisara (IRE) (7-2)
  • #4 Empress Josephine (IRE) (3-1)
  • #6 Queen Goddess (30-1)
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About The Author
Laurie Ross
Laurie is a handicapper, pedigree consultant, and published author. Her work has been featured on numerous prominent racing websites and she is a reoccurring guest on sports radio programs. She is also a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Her yearly publications contain tremendous insight and value for bettors and horsemen. The Freshmen Sire Guide has received accolades from leading trainers and handicappers and her Triple Crown guides are a best-selling feature.