By Ed McNamara
American trainer Wesley Ward tried to overcome 105 years of history Tuesday at Royal Ascot, and history held serve.
Kaufymaker could have become the first filly to win the Group 2 Coventry Stakes since 1916, but she faded to eighth, beaten by 4 1/4 lengths, after she and John Velazquez battled on a hot pace until the final furlong. After percolating early against 16 2-year-old colts, Kaufymaker got ground down by quick fractions. The winner, 11-1 shot Berkshire Shadow, and the runner-up, 66-1 Eldrickjones, came from far back in the 6-furlong race.
Kaufymaker had been training impressively on the grass for her turf debut. In her only other race, she dominated by six lengths in a 4 1/2-furlong dash April 15 at Keeneland. She was the 5-2 morning-line favorite, but her price drifted up to 8-1 at post time. Her backers must have thought the dramatic odds shift offered great value, but they were mistaken.
Ward told usracing.com last week that Kaufymaker was his best chance for victory among his 11 runners at the royal meeting, saying if she didn’t run well, “I could be in trouble.” His other entry on opening day, the 5-year-old gelding Maven, never got involved and finished 11th in the 5-furlong, Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, in which another American shipper, Extravagant Kid, came in third.
In the day’s first race, the Group 1, mile Queen Anne Stakes, 2-7 favorite Palace Pier won by 1 1/2 lengths for Frankie Dettori, who performed his flying dismount. The victory came 31 years after the 50-year-old superstar won for the first time at Royal Ascot.
Hollie Doyle, one of only three women ever to ride a winner there, earned her second victory a year after getting her first. Doyle and 33-1 shot Amtiyaz held on by a nose in the final race, the 1 3/4-mile Copper Horse Stakes Handicap, undoubtedly bailing out many who were chasing their losses.
The big shocker came in the 2 1/2-mile Ascot Stakes, when 66-1 Reshoun delighted the bookmakers, who prosper from a winner that almost nobody bet on. Reshoun and Amtiyaz sent them home with their satchels full after paying off the few bettors who had played either.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.