After winning five of the six juvenile races he entered this spring at Keeneland, trainer Wesley Ward is considering all of those winners for Royal Ascot.
Ward won a baby race for fillies on opening day with Sweet Emma Rose and he took the closing-day juvenile race with No Nay Never, by Scat Daddy , who is campaigned by Susan Magnier and Ice Wine Stable (Dave Reid). No Nay Never and the meet's leading jockey, Joel Rosario, moved up along the rail in the turn and cruised to a two-length win (VIDEO).
Ward plans to point No Nay Never to the Norfolk Stakes (Eng-II), one of his five Keeneland juvenile winners he is considering for Royal Ascot. Ward is hoping for firmer ground this season, noting he has passed on the last few years because of rain.
"When it starts to rain, it's just so much in their favor because of the turf breeding they have," Ward said. "If we get good firm ground, I think we'll be tough on them this year."
Ward also will find a Royal Ascot race for Hollywood Talent, one of three horses owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey being considered for Royal Ascot. Hollywood Talent is by the Ramseys' stallion Talent Search. Paul Shanahan and Ward's colt Pablo Del Monte, by Giant's Causeway , won on April 7 and also is probable to make the trip.
Sweet Emma Rose, who won the opening day juvenile race for fillies, will be pointed to the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-II). All-Pro wide receiver Wes Welker owns a percentage of the City Zip filly.
Ward also plans to find a Royal Ascot race for Brereton Jones' Mary At the Cove, a Brother Derek filly who won a juvenile race for fillies April 18.
He takes pride in his success with juveniles and credits everyone in his operation for making it happen.
"I just love it. Everybody that works for me works so hard all winter long. We're at the barn until it turns dark every night starting in October until we head here right before the meet starts in March," Ward said. "For everything to come together and for the 2-year-olds to run as well as they are; it seems like every year we just get a little bit better quality stock. They just keep running well."
Ward said the Keeneland Polytrack is an excellent surface for young horses to make their debut.
"Every 2-year-old—and when I say every I mean every 2-year-old I've had—comes out of the race just as well as they went into it. The track is just second to none for these babies. And they go on."
Ward's 4-year-old Judy the Beauty won an optional-claiming race this spring. She won her debut in a 2011 spring juvenile fillies race at Keeneland. Ward said it's exciting to see a young horse put everything together.
"Something about this track and running these babies, it just seems like the light goes on and they realize what they're on the planet for," Ward said. "They really get a good start to the career."