King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (G1) — 10:35 a.m. ET
England’s premier weight-for-age, middle-distance event, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (G1), will again offer the winner an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar when the Ascot showcase is renewed on Saturday.
The four-year-old filly Love will face the most difficult test of her career in the 1 1/2-mile King George, but ante-post bettors have been extremely high on her chances of succeeding as she’s been trading close to even-money with most bookmakers.
It’s not difficult to understand why, given Love’s formidable form last season, when she crushed the opposition in the 1000 Guineas (G1), Epsom Oaks (G1), and Yorkshire Oaks (G1). An early favorite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in October, she was eventually withdrawn due to soft ground.
Making a return to action in the June 16 Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot off a 10-month layoff, Love turned in a gutsy effort to fend off reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Audarya by three-quarters of a length going 1 1/4 miles.
Historically one of the first top-level opportunities of the English season for three-year-olds to face their elders, the King George has attracted possibly the best of the classic colts this season in Adayar, who surprised his Epsom Derby (G1) rivals as a 16-1 chance by an emphatic 4 1/2 lengths.
Although he was less liked at Epsom than fellow Godolphin colorbearer Hurricane Lane, Adayar has been flattered by that stablemate’s subsequent victories in the Irish Derby (G1) and Grand Prix de Paris (G1), the former over Adayar’s fellow King George competitor Lone Eagle.
Mishriff, who captured the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) earlier this year, will look to rebound off a third-place finish in the Eclipse (G1), in which he was arguably at a tactical disadvantage facing only three rivals. The race was won convincingly by the exciting three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica.
Dual Group 1-winning filly Wonderful Tonight has turned in her best efforts over soft and heavy conditions, but Mother Nature might not provide her with enough cut in the ground ahead of Saturday’s race. She enters off a season-opening defeat of Broome in the course-and-distance Hardwicke (G2) during the Royal meeting.
The King George will mark the seventh start of the season for Broome, who has four wins and two seconds this term. Last time, he led throughout in taking the 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1). The last horse to win both the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and King George in the same year was Novellist (2013).
The King George winner has contested the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year 10 times since 1984, with Daylami (1999), Conduit (2009), and Highland Reel (2016) winning both races. Swain, the 1998 King George winner, notoriously threw away a huge opportunity to win that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) after bearing out badly toward the outer rail during the stretch run. He wound up second to Awesome Again.