Few horses had as ambitious a campaign as the one put forth by group 1 winner Lady Aurelia as a 2-year-old last season.
Should the daughter of Scat Daddy progress as hoped, a schedule of an even more robust nature could be laid out before her in 2017.
The Cartier Award-winning bay filly turned in her second timed workout of the year Feb. 15, when she covered three furlongs in :37.09 at Stonestreet Training Center near Ocala, Fla., as she readies for her sophomore debut, which will likely come in the Giant's Causeway Stakes at Keeneland April 15, according to co-owner George Bolton.
Trainer Wesley Ward has been steadily building fitness back into Lady Aurelia since her return from a freshening following a taxing juvenile campaign. Last season she broke her maiden at Keeneland, earned arguably the most visually impressive victory during the 2016 Royal Ascot meeting with her Queen Mary Stakes (G2) triumph, then bested males in the Darley Prix Morny (G1) in August. Unraced since her third-place finish in the Sept. 24 Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) at Newmarket, Lady Aurelia will likely return to Royal Ascot for the King's Stand Stakes (G1) should all go well in her seasonal debut, and could be primed for more globetrotting after that.
"She's doing great. I think the strategy is race-by-race this year," said Bolton, who co-owns Lady Aurelia with Peter Leidel and breeder Stonestreet Stables. "I think we want to race at Keeneland and then go over to one of the races at Ascot. Then I don't know what the rest of the year is like—whether she would come back over to the States to finish her year or go back over (to Europe) to keep running.
"I think what is on everyone's mind is whether she is a stretch-out filly or a five-six furlong turf sprinter. If that is the case, I think that will determine the rest of the year. If that's the case, I wouldn't be surprised if she went back over there for the rest of the year."
Lady Aurelia managed to impress voters on both sides of the Atlantic after her juvenile season. She became the first American-trained horse to win a Cartier Award—taking the 2-year-old filly honor—and was an Eclipse Award finalist for that same division. Her seven-length triumph in the five-furlong Queen Mary, just her second start, stood as one of the best displays of brilliance in all of 2016. And when the year-end accolades started coming her way, Bolton was heartened to see such global recognition.
"I thought it was really nice that the writers on both continents said ... she was deserving," Bolton said. "They both said this filly is serious. It's nice that the writers didn't just look at the last race and looked at the whole résumé. And it was a gutsy schedule.
"It wasn't like we played Boise State. It was like we went to Notre Dame for the opening game, then we went to visit Michigan, then Ohio State."
Bred by Stonestreet out of the Forest Wildcat mare D'Wildcat Speed, Lady Aurelia has won three of her four starts with $369,668 in earnings. In her lone stateside start, she broke her by maiden by 7 1/2 lengths after leading at every point of call going 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland April 21.
"People forget, she got on a plane, went to Royal Ascot, came back to Kentucky, then went back to France, then went to England and trained and ran there," Bolton said. "Last January, when we thought about bringing a horse to Royal Ascot, I kept saying to (Stonestreet owner) Barbara (Banke) if we're going to do this, let's find one that really fits. And this Scat Daddy filly is the one."