Not surprisingly, trainer Wesley Ward began the Keeneland spring meet April 8 with a 2-year-old winner. But this one is a filly he bred.
Steven Bell's Big City Dreamin, one of two fillies in the $50,000 maiden special weight event, grabbed the lead under Julio Garcia in the 4 1/2-furlong race and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths in :52.53 on a track rated fast. The filly, out of the Cherokee Run mare Cherokee Approval, is by Iqbaal, who stands privately at Ward's Ward Ranch in Florida.
Video: Race 1 (MSW) at KEE on 4/8/16
Ward purchased Iqbaal for $70,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November breeding stock sale from Shadwell Farm, agent. Iqbaal, by Medaglia d'Oro, won his first two starts and then finished third in the grade III Pegasus Stakes in his only three starts.
Ward has won the first 2-year-old race of the Keeneland spring meet seven of the past nine years, according to track statistics.
Trainer John Hancock, another regular in 2-year-old races at the Keeneland spring meet, finished second with Blue Checker Thoroughbreds' Bluegrass Gem, a colt by Gemologist out of the Saint Ballado mare Song of the Saints. Bluegrass Gem had his first works at Riverside Downs, a western Kentucky training center, before his two works at Keeneland.
"I'll get him on Sunday," Hancock said in reference to an April 10 2-year-old filly maiden race at Keeneland in which he will saddle Blue Checker's Midnight Chica. Ward has two entered: Wes Welker and Kent Spellman's Spellker and Hat Creek Racing's Red Lodge.
Ward finished second in the standings for this year's winter/spring meet at Turfway Park with 19 wins. Mike Maker had 21.