Ascot win makes Alpha Centauri a Breeders' Cup contender

By Ron Flatter  (VSiN.com) 

Royal_Ascot_logo

Las Vegas

It was not a day for favorites early Friday at Royal Ascot. Not until the blue-blooded filly Alpha Centauri hit the turf with a performance that made her a serious Breeders’ Cup contender.

Owned and bred by the Niarchos family built on a Greek shipping fortune, sired by the Danehill stallion Mastercraftsman and trained by the first lady of Irish racing Jessica Harrington, Alpha Centauri (11-4 U.K., 5-2 U.S.) humbled an accomplished but overmatched field to win the Group 1 Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Colm O’Donoghue rode her to a six-length runaway from Threading (7-1, 6-1) with Veracious (14-1, 10-1) another 1¾ lengths back in third. Alpha Centauri was timed at 1:35.89 for the right-turn mile, a record for a course made firm by dry, warm weather the first three days of England’s biggest week of racing.

“We’ve always been happy with the filly,” said Alan Cooper, the Niarchoses’ racing manager. “Going into the race we were very nervous looking at the form of the others, but we’ve shown them all today.”

It was the first Royal Ascot victory for Harrington, 71, who came up short when Alpha Centauri was a beaten favorite last year.

“We were very disappointed when we she was second in the Albany Stakes, but that’s racing,” Harrington said. “Some things happen, and some things don’t happen. It’s great when it all comes together.”

Friday’s race made it clear that Alpha Centauri needs to be on firm turf. She lost on soft and heavy tracks by an average of 8¾ lengths on either side of a seven-month winter break. Coming back to a good surface last month at the Curragh, she won as a 12-1 long shot in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, raising expectations for a winning effort Friday against a field that included two other Guineas winners that failed to hit the board.

“What she wants is good ground; what she doesn’t want is heavy ground,” Harrington said. “She is a very big filly (1,146 pounds), and I think when she is on soft ground she physically can’t get her feet out.”

“Alpha Centauri has a lot of pace and is a top-class filly at a mile,” O’Donoghue said. “She has a high cruising speed and can quicken off of that as you saw today in beating the track record.”

Even though this was not a win-and-you’re-in race, the victory still stamped the gray filly as a major player for the Breeders’ Cup Mile this fall at Churchill Downs. Alpha Centauri is already a best-priced 6-1 co-favorite in Europe with Without Parole, the winner Tuesday of the Group 1 St. James’s Palace for Canadian owner-breeder John Gunther. Alpha Centauri even shortened to 5-1 at Ladbrokes.

For now Cooper is only focused on the summer. “There is a race at Deauville (France) in the middle of August that the family sponsors,” he said. “It might be an option. We can dream, plan and see where the owners would like to take her.”

Earlier Friday, maiden winner Eqtidaar (12-1, 16-1) broke through in his group debut, drifting across the course late but still emerging as a half-length winner in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, the fourth running of the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old males. Sired by Invincible Spirit, Eqtidaar finished just ahead of Sands Of Mali (15-2, 8-1) to extend Sir Michael Stoute’s Royal Ascot record to 78 training wins. The American colt Gidu (40-1, 24-1) chased the lead and finished an impressive sixth for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velázquez. Gidu is owned by Zayat Stables, still without a graded or group win since American Pharoah won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Old Persian (9-2, 7-2) pulled away in the final furlong in his group debut to win the Group 2 King Edward VII, a 1½-miler also known as the Ascot derby. The 3-year-old Godolphin colt sired by Dubawi is 3-for-4 this year with each win ridden by William Buick for trainer Charlie Appleby.

The day began with Main Edition (7-1, 6-1) winning the Group 3 Albany, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies. Now 3-for-3 for trainer Mark Johnston, the filly sired by Main Lobster finished a neck better than La Pelosa (12-1, 13-1). Stillwater Cove (25-1, 23-1), an American runner trained by 10-time Royal Ascot winner Wesley Ward, set a blistering early pace before fading to 13th in the field of 19.

Ron Flatter’s racing column is posted every Friday morning at VSiN.com and appears daily through Royal Ascot. You may also hear the Ron Flatter Racing Pod, also posted Friday mornings at VSiN.com/podcasts. Guests today include Daily Racing Form chief photographer Barbara Livingston and southern California handicapper Bob Ike. Please subscribe and post a review where available at Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music and Stitcher.

back to news

FREE Email Sign-Up

Get the latest sports betting news & VSiN programming updates with this free daily email from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network.

Headlines

View All
  • Zach_LaVine

    Tuley's Takes Today: Tuesday recaps, Circa Quarter prizes, Wednesday best bet (12/8)

    “You can’t win ‘em all.” If you were to watch games with me in the Tuley’s Takes home office or in one of the sportsbooks...
  • bama

    Early CFP Semifinals Sharp Report

    Today bettors have a loaded Wednesday slate to choose from including 13 NBA games, 4 NHL games and 50 College Basketball games. For an updated breakdown...
  • USATSI_17214623

    Peterson: Best bet for Wyoming vs. Arizona

    The Wyoming Cowboys have started out the season with eight straight wins, but face their toughest test yet when they go to Tucson on Wednesday to face...
  • makinennfl

    Analyzing NFL QBs for betting success

    I have always been a football handicapper who puts a ton of stock into the quality of quarterback play. In my opinion, there is no more important position...
  • makinencbb

    Ten midmajors to watch

    The college basketball season has been up and running for nearly a month, and it’s a good time to start plotting for the rest of the season based...
  • makinencfb

    Who's hot, not ahead of bowls?

    With college bowl season opening Dec. 17, here’s a look at which bowl-bound teams are hot and which are not, as well as teams that have had big...
  • burkesurvivor

    Tricky week in survivor pools

    There are only five weeks left in the NFL regular season, but for those still alive in survivor pools, the light at the end of the tunnel is merely a...
  • burkecbb

    Why pace matters in college hoops

    A lot of early-season questions have been answered in college basketball. But as conference play kicks into gear, adjustments will be needed. There...
  • tuley

    Tuley's Takes on NFL Week 14

    NFL Week 13 was another roller-coaster ride here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but as has happened many weekends this season, teasers saved...
  • hill

    NFL capsules for Week 14

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) will be looking for their second win in five days when they...
  • appelbaum

    Five NFL games on wise guys' radar

    It was a mixed bag for NFL Week 13 bettors as favorites went 8-6 SU and 8-6 ATS. Dogs remain profitable for the season at 107-85-1 ATS (56 percent). ...
  • macneil

    NHL teams slip-sliding away

    The Canucks and Flyers fired their coaches over the weekend, and the Canucks took it a step further, firing their general manager as well. It’s...

custom-banner-3
VSiN Logo Plus

Free Trial

Make a risk-free bet on VSiN!

VSiN+ FREE TRIAL

  • Afternoon subscriber-only email with highlights and best bets from the day's programs
  • Point Spread Weekly, VSiN's digital magazine on sports betting
  • 24-7 Live video stream of VSiN programs plus replays
  • Any special sport-specified betting guides we do
  • All exclusive subscriber-only stories and data on VSiN.com
Sign Up Now
Google Play
App Store
Close