The Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1), the richest race of the meeting and one of its most competitive at the top level, is the gem of the second day of Royal Ascot June 21.
Wednesday's card is supported by the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) for 2-year-old fillies including one of trainer Wesley Ward's finest, the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (G2) at the straight mile, and the seven-furlong Jersey Stakes (G3).
The Prince of Wales's Stakes features Jack Hobbs, Highland Reel, and Ulysses, and that's just the start in terms of talent of the nine-horse field. Among the potential upsetters are Decorated Knight, who has two group 1 victories from his past three outings; and French-trained Mekhtaal, fresh off a win in the Prix d'Ispahan (G1) at Chantilly.
But the big three garner the most attention.
Jack Hobbs, a 5-year-old son of Halling, sports the Godolphin blue and comes into this race off a victory in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on Dubai World Cup night in March. That race, however, was run on yielding turf after torrential rains hit Dubai. He goes from post 8 under William Buick.
Highland Reel is known worldwide, from Chicago where he won the Secretariat Stakes (G1T) by 5 1/4 lengths as a 3-year-old; to Hong Kong, where he finished second in December's Longines Hong Kong Vase (G1) behind Satono Crown after winning the 2015 edition of that race; and back to California, where he won the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) in November. He won the Investec Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom just three weeks ago and takes a lot of beating on good to firm going. Ryan Moore riding for trainer Aidan O'Brien doesn't hurt the chances of the 5-year-old son of Galileo.
Ulysses, a 4-year-old Galileo colt, races for the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Stables under the care of trainer Sir Michael Stoute. He was fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf.
The race, worth £750,000 ($957,000), is the top purse of a meeting where prestige and breeding potential rate at least the equal of purse money.
In the five-furlong Queen Mary, Ward's Happy Like A Fool tops early wagering with bookmakers. Bred in Kentucky by Ward, Happy Like A Fool will have Moore in the irons in her second career start. The Distorted Humor filly won at first asking at Keeneland, drawing off at the end of 4 1/2 furlongs on dirt to win by four lengths.
Also prominent in the antepost wagering in the expected field of 24 for the Queen Mary is Heartache (GB), a daughter of Kyllachy trained by Clive Cox. She was an easy winner in her first start May 26 at Bath.
In the Duke of Cambridge stakes for older fillies and mares, Laugh Aloud, a 4-year-old Dubawi filly representing Godolphin, and Qemah, a 4-year-old Danehill Dancer filly owned by Al Shaqab Racing, top early wagering.
The Jersey Stakes (G3) is seven furlongs for 3-year-olds—lots of them. Twenty are set to run. Among the best-fancied are Godolphin's Dream Castle, a Frankel colt making his first start since a fifth-place finish in the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1), and the Andre Fabre-trained Le Brivido coming off a close runner-up finish in the Abu Dhabi Poule d'Essai des Poulains (G1). Also look to Daban, an Acclamation filly trained by John Gosden who finished third to Winter in the QIPCO One Thousand Guineas (G1).
The day concludes with the Sandringham Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, also at a mile and having attracted a big field. Ward has Con Te Partiro in the Sandringham.
The first race goes at 2:30 p.m. local time, 9:30 a.m. EDT.