Trainer Wesley Ward added to his reputation as a conditioner of young horses, especially first-time starters, when Sweet Emma Rose sprinted clear early and rolled to a nine-length victory in the first of eight "baby races" scheduled for the Keeneland spring meet April 5 (VIDEO).
The eight races are 4 1/2-furlong maiden events for 2-year-olds and typically are filled with first-time starters. Blood-Horse plans coverage of these races thorughout the meet. All nine of the fillies in the April 5 race, the meet's opening day, were making their debuts.
Hat Creek Racing's Sweet Emma Rose, by City Zip —Miss Moneypenny, by Deputy Minister, broke well and then took no time to find her best stride under John Velazquez. A $40,000 purchase at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale by Cromwell Bloodstock, Sweet Emma Rose completed the 4 1/2-furlong test in :51.94.
Charles Brown's Ginger Stone rallied for second, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Summer Time Ranger, the first starter from the first crop of U S Ranger .
Looking ahead to the next baby race April 7 …
Ward looks formidable again when he sends out an entry in Sunday's open race in filly Hearsay Social, by second-crop sire He's Crafty, and colt Pablo Del Monte, by Giant's Causeway . Last year Giant's Causeway ranked fifth on the sire list for all-weather surfaces. This entry has the added attraction that both horses are bred by Ward, who owns the filly and co-owns the colt.
Both halves of the entry are the first starters for their respective mares, who were both trained by Ward. Hearsay Social is out of the Bring the Heat mare Billie Bob, who at 3 set a track record at the 4 1/2-furlong distance at Hollywood Park. Pablo Del Monte is out of the Bring the Heat mare One Hot Wish, who set a track record in a 2007 baby race at Keeneland that still stands when she completed 4 1/2 furlongs in :48.87.
Both juveniles have two recent breezes from the gate.
My Smooth Talker (12-1 ML odds), by Yes It's True, is out of the unraced Sadler's Wells mare Meteor Wells. Both foals by Meteor Wells have won, including Melt City who won three times as a juvenile in Russia. Meteor Wells is a half sister to champion juvenile filly Pleasant Stage and two other graded stakes winners.
My Smooth Talker's second dam is Meteor Stage, a half sister to grade I winners A Phenomenon and Seattle Meteor.
Other horses of note include Alonso, a half brother to a stakes winner at 3 and 4, Gig Harbor; Solitary Ranger, another starter for stallion U S Ranger; and Indigo Diamond, whose second dam is a half sister to grade I winner Frankly Perfect.
The picks: Pablo Del Monte, Hearsay Social, My Smooth Talker
Follow all of Frank Angst's Blood-Horse picks this spring on the Keeneland simulcasts.