After getting off to a relatively slow start, trainer Ronny Werner swept both maiden races for 2-year-olds run at Keeneland Thursday and Friday.
The two wins improve Werner's record with first-time starters at the Lexington track the last two years to seven wins from 10 starts. In the same time period, he's saddled two non-maidens at Keeneland and both those horses finished out of the money.
But the meet started on a down note for Werner. His Down Play drew a poor post in the first juvenile race of the meet and scampered home 12th of 12 under Robby Albarado after starting from the outside post at odds of 5-1. On Wednesday, Werner's Wild Thrill finished third as the 8-5 favorite under Eddie Martin Jr. before the first runner from Distorted Humor's first crop, Awesome Humor, earned a neck-length win Thursday. Awesome Humor completed her 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.55.
On Friday, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Werner trainee Badge of Silver romped to a nine-length win under Albarado, completing the 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.82. Badge of Silver's win marked the second juvenile winner of the meet for sire Silver Deputy. Posse (Silver Deputy--Raska, by Rahy) drew off to a 13 1/2-length win in Wild Thrill's race Wednesday.
Last year, Werner's first-time starters at Keeneland won five of six races. One of those winners was City Street, who equaled the 4-1/2 furlong track record in his win. The son of Carson City was ridden by Albarado and stopped the timer at :51.04. City Street went off favored and came into the race off a bullet four-furlong work in :47 4/5 at Lone Star Park and a sharp three furlong work in :35 3/5 at Keeneland. City Street went on to finish a dead-heat winner with Open Story in the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill Downs -- setting a track record for five furlongs -- and is unraced since. Werner also won last year's Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill with Lunar Bounty off a debut win at Arlington Park. The son of Migrating Moon is winless from four subsequent starts.
Six of Werner's recent seven Keeneland winners have gone off favored, with none of his winners starting for odds of 5-1 or higher.
No juvenile races are scheduled as part of Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes card Saturday. On Sunday, Werner-trained Adopted Daughter starts under Albarado from the outside post nine for the Ramseys in another 4 1/2-furlong juvenile dash. The daughter of first-crop sire Elusive Quality is the 8-5 morning-line favorite. The $65,000 yearling purchase is out of Remington Park Oaks winner Special Test, by Hawkin's Special.
(Also, Elusive Quality Represented by First Winner