At his age, there isn’t much Extravagant Kid hasn’t seen or dealt with on the racetrack – which is why his connections believe some recent shifts in his scenery may be bringing out the best in the 8-year-old warrior.
After years of knocking heads with some of the elite in the North American sprint turf ranks, the gelded son of Kiss the Kid turned his first overseas venture into the performance of a lifetime when he captured the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai on March 27 – the first graded/group success of his 50-race career. With his form seemingly at its peak and apparent affinity for international competition, the Brendan Walsh-trainee will aim to add another global notch on his belt when he starts in the King’s Stand Stakes (G1) on the opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting June 15.
Seeing longtime performers get rewarded for their diligent is a storyline that never gets old in the sports landscape, and Extravagant Kid fits that feel-good bill. When he started his career back in August 2015, defending King’s Stand race winner Battaash (IRE) was just a yearling, and that year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was still in training. Since being claimed by owner DARRS, Inc. for $75,000 out of a six-furlong test at Gulfstream Park in January 2018, Extravagant Kid has literally been old reliable for his connections, posting 21 top-three finishes under Walsh’s care.
In last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), Extravagant Kid finished fourth in the 14-horse field, beaten just a length and a head by heroine Glass Slippers (GB). After starting his 2021 campaign with a trio of runner-up finishes, the gelding who has been there and done that thrived during his time at Meydan Racecourse, earning a half-length score in the Al Quoz Sprint.
“The travel and the different track, it is kind of like human nature when you get to a horse of this age, you’re trying to find something a little different,” Walsh said of Extravagant Kid during a press conference streamed by Great British Racing International. “He’s pretty much seen it all before and this suits his character and picked him up a bit. Maybe that is what we can accredit some of his improvement to.”
Added James Bredin, racing manager for owner DARRS, Inc., “Extravagant Kid is a quirky old horse and wasn’t really finishing off his races until recently. He ran a super race at the Breeders’ Cup to finish fourth from the widest draw, when he was never able to save any ground. His owner David Ross claimed him out of a race at Gulfstream three and a half years ago. In America, you put your claim slip in before the race is run, so you don’t really know how things are going to work out.”
While six furlongs has appeared to be the distance most suited to Extravagant Kid’s best run, the undulating nature of the Ascot course during the five-furlong King’s Stand should still play to his wheelhouse.
“We opted for the King’s Stand Stakes because (jockey) Ryan (Moore) felt the strong uphill finish over five furlongs would really suit him,” Bredin said. “It probably plays like a six-furlong race anyway.”
Extravagant Kid will be one of two America-based entries in the King’s Stand as he is joined by the Wesley Ward-trained Maven. Maven, a gelded son of American Pharoah, comes to the Royal Ascot test off a victory in a 5 ½ furlong allowance race at Keeneland on April 15.
“When Maven ran in an allowance race at Keeneland in April, we felt he was a bit short fitness-wise,” Ward told the Ascot media team. “On the day he bounced out in front and when they came to him, I thought he was going to surrender, but he just took off again. I was delighted and then once I saw the numbers, it inspired me to put him on the team for Royal Ascot. He will have to move forward from that again to be in the mix for the King’s Stand Stakes, but I think he is entitled to do so.”
Shadwell’s multiple Group 1 winner Battaash will be the one all need to run by if back form holds, but the son of Dark Angel (IRE) has not started since taking the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York last August. Battaash captured the King’s Stand last June to kick off a 3-for-3 season and he is returning from a minor joint injury suffered over the winter.
“It has been well documented that he had a minor injury at the end of last year and he was at Shadwell for the whole of the winter, but everybody has been very happy with his work in the last three weeks and Charles Hills feels he has been moving as well as ever,” Angus Gold, longtime racing manager for Shadwell, told Tamarkuz Media. “From what they can see at home, he doesn’t appear to have lost his speed, so hopefully he can get back to his best to defend his title.”
The King’s Stand Stakes is one of three Group 1 prizes on the opening day of Royal Ascot alongside the Queen Anne Stakes for older milers and the St James’s Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts.
Palace Pier (GB)headlines 12 confirmations for the Queen Anne Stakes after a dominant display in last month’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. Those in opposition are set to include upset FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) victor Order Of Australia (IRE).
QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare (IRE) is the star name among 15 confirmations for the St James’s Palace Stakes. The unbeaten Mostahdaf (IRE) for Shadwell and last year’s Chesham Stakes victor Battleground also figure prominent.
Ward’s team for the opening day of Royal Ascot also includes imposing filly Kaufymaker, who will line up against the colts in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes (29 entries) over six furlongs. Gregory Kaufman’s homebred scored by a wide margin on debut in a dirt maiden at Keeneland in April.
TVG’s special coverage of every race from the Royal Ascot meeting will begin on June 15 at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT. TVG’s Scott Hazelton will anchor the week-long Royal Ascot coverage from the Los Angeles studio, and Luck will be joining international racing expert Jess Stafford with live, on-site coverage featuring exclusive interviews, analysis and selections.
The Royal Ascot meeting will feature four Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge races which will earn the winner an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup which will be held at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6. The races are the Queen Anne Stakes (FanDuel Mile), Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Longines Turf), Norfolk Stakes (Juvenile Turf) and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Turf Sprint).