Ward Eyes Royal Ascot with Four Juveniles
Trainer Wesley Ward sent out four Royal Ascot hopefuls, all 2-year-olds, for four-furlong drills the morning May 26 at Arlington Park International Racecourse.
Spanish Pipedream, owned by Gatewood Bell, and Hootenanny, whom Ward owns in partnership with Ken Donworth and Ben McElroy, worked in tandem, while Ten Broeck Farm's To Be Determined and Hat Creek Racing's Lindy completing the second team.
Last year, Ward used prep work over the Arlington turf for No Nay Never en route to victory in the Norfolk Stakes (Eng-II) and subsequent glory in the Prix Morny (Fr-I) at Deauville in France.
Ward, who became the first United States trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot when two of his juveniles won races there in 2009, is also the only American conditioner to win a stakes on the Royal Ascot card—and has done so three times.
In addition to No Nay Never last year, he also annexed two fixtures on the 2009 card: the Queen Mary (Eng-II) with Jealous Again and Windsor Castle Stakes with Strike the Tiger.
In Monday morning's works, Spanish Pipedream, a daughter of No Nay Never's sire Scat Daddy , and Hootenanny, from the first crop of Quality Road , drilled in :48 4/5 and :49, respectively. Hootenanny, who won his debut April 17 at Keeneland is exiting a disappointing third-place run as the 3-5 favorite in the Rollicking Stakes May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
"Hootenanny is talented. Early on when he was breezing at Palm Meadows, he was good. Then, when we put him on the grass he stepped up his game," Ward said. "I talked myself into running him (at Pimlico), but I probably shouldn't have. I think he'll be a quality stakes horse on grass or Poly."
Spanish Pipedream broke her maiden at Keeneland April 24 and has a steady stream of works. Owned by a partnership that includes Denver Bronco Wes Welker, the filly—like Lindy and To Be Determined--is highly regarded by Ward.
"They're not quite No Nay Never, but they really do stack up. I think Spanish Pipedream is definitely better than Sweet Emma Rose and possibly as good or better than Jealous Again," Ward explained.
Sweet Emma Rose was a solid second in last year's Queen Mary.
In the second set, To Be Determined—the only maiden of the foursome—outworked Presque Isle Downs maiden winner Lindy by three lengths.
The duo clocked times of :48 and :48 3/5, respectively. To Be Determined, an Elusive Quality filly under leading Arlington rider Florent Geroux, collared her rival turning for home and drew off impressively. Despite being bested by her stablemate, Lindy, under Sheldon Russell, galloped out impressively past her stablemate, getting six furlongs in 1:14. Lindy, a daughter of hot sire War Front , wore a blinder on her right eye.
With four impressive youngsters stacked up and five stakes for juveniles at the Royal Ascot meeting—including three group II fixtures: the Coventry, Queen Mary and Norfolk—Ward will have his work cut out for him when it comes to deciding who goes where.
"We are going to sort through everything here soon and see what fits best for each horse," he concluded. "We'll see how we can divide and conquer."
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