April 20, 2024

Brown trio face royal opposition in Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Cambier Parc and jockey Jose Ortiz rally past Newspaperofrecord and Irad Ortiz Jr. to take the Wonder Again Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on June 6, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/NYRA

Trainer Chad Brown will take three shots at winning a record-tying third edition of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland on Saturday, but among those hoping to stop that from happening is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself, who’ll be represented for the first time in the race that bears her name.

Brown’s trio are, as can be expected, well credentialed. Cambier Parc is a three-time graded stakes winner this term, including the Del Mar Oaks (G1) last time. Regal Glory has won three straight stakes, including a dead-heat score with Varenka in the Lake Placid (G2) last out. Cafe Americano has won three of four, with her initial stakes victory coming in the Pucker Up (G3) at Arlington two months ago.

Since its inauguration in 1984 when Queen Elizabeth II was in attendance at Keeneland, the 1 1/8-mile Challenge Cup for three-year-old fillies has been won three times by retired Hall of Fame trainer John Veitch and by Jimmy Toner, whose Memories of Silver (1996) still owns the stakes record of 1:45.80.

The royal colors will be sported by Magnetic Charm, who won a minor stakes at York in May and nearly provided the monarch with a Royal Ascot victory in the Sandringham Handicap in June. In her most recent start, Magnetic Charm finished second by a nose against older rivals in the Canadian (G2) at Woodbine. The daughter of Exceed and Excel is trained by William Haggas.

“She’s very straightforward and tries incredibly hard,” said assistant trainer Harry Eustace. “She ran one of her best races in Canada. She’s trained well since at Keeneland. It’s a great place for horses to come to, and she’s really blossomed since she got there. Fingers crossed, and she can run well and give the Queen something to cheer about.”

Castle Lady is another leading foreign entry in this edition of the Challenge Cup. Representing the hot Godolphin stable, which has had a tremendous season both overseas and in the U.S., Castle Lady won the French 1000 Guineas (G1) at Longchamp in May but has not been out since a fifth-place effort in the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Completing the field are the aforementioned Varenka, Honeymoon (G3) winner Lady Prancealot, recent Dueling Grounds Oaks heroine Princesa Carolina, and the multiple stakes-placed Kelsey’s Cross.