Cannonball works on the River Downs turf on May 24.

Cannonball works on the River Downs turf on May 24.

Courtesy of River Downs - Longshot Photos

River Turf a Springboard for Royal Ascot?

Trainer Wesley Ward prepped some horses for the Royal Ascot meet.

From River Downs

Trainer Wesley Ward, who plans a venture to the Royal Ascot meet in England this year, came away from River Downs very pleased with the performances of members of his stable that prepped in front of the public at the Ohio track May 24.

“I think we got exactly what we came for,” said the Eclipse Award-winning jockey-turned-trainer. “By letting us work between races, the horses got a race-day experience, and all were up to the task. The turf course here is in fantastic shape, and a natural course that they will race on in England.

The only older horse in the Ward contingent was the 4-year-old Cannonball, who worked alone before the fourth race under Dale Baze and was clocked in :45 4/5 for four furlongs on the grass. As Cannonball returned to the gap before the 2-year-olds worked, Baze looked to the grandstand and said, “Wow!”

Shortly thereafter, Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) winner Aegean and Kentucky Juvenile runner-up Jealous Again worked in company. Aegean and local jockey Yuri Yuranga seemed to hold the edge at the wire in :34 4/5 for the three furlongs.

Aegean (outside) and Jealous Again
Photos courtesy of River Downs - Longshot Photos

“I’m not surprised at their times, and with this behind them, I really won’t have to do much after we get there,” Ward said.

The trainer said he plans to bring a few of the horses back for the $100,000 Coca-Cola Bassinet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the $200,000 Bud Select Cradle Stakes for 2-year-olds later in the season at River Downs.

Ward sent out three more 2-year-old England-bound runners prior to the seventh race. Grand Times, a recent winner at Calder Race Course, and Yogaroo, who won at second asking at Keeneland, went stride for stride to the wire in :34, with Strike the Tiger, a debut winner at Churchill Downs, only 1 1/2 lengths behind.