European champion Lady Aurelia is set to return to Keeneland at week's end from England, where last Friday the hard-charging rival Marsha nosed her out to win the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York, trainer Wesley Ward said Aug. 28.
Stonestreet Stables and Peter Leidel's Lady Aurelia, who has five wins, one second, and one third in seven starts and has earned $814,945, came out of the Coolmore Nunthorpe "perfect," Ward said.
"She thinks she won," he said about the 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly, who two months ago traveled from Keeneland to win the King's Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. "They do know. If they're running hard and they're in front and then somebody blows by them, the next day they're kinda like ears back, dejected, and sad almost. But the ones that win are the opposite. Their ears are up; they come out of the stall bouncing. She really thinks she won."
For a moment after the Coolmore Nunthorpe, a 5-furlong turf race that fielded 11 runners, so did Lady Aurelia's jockey, Frankie Dettori, who thrust his right arm in the air in celebration. Ward, who watched the race from the paddock, said he was more reserved in his initial reaction.
"I thought for a second that she might have won when Frankie was so confident," he said. "The filly that won it, she ran a valiant race to run us down. She was very courageous to come and get what I believe is the fastest horse in the world. I was proud (Lady Aurelia made) such a tremendous effort back to back from here in the spring at Keeneland to Ascot to that race."
Ward said Lady Aurelia's final race of the year would be the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) Nov. 4 at Del Mar. She will remain at Keeneland and train up to that race.
"We'll look forward to the Breeders' Cup then (will) put her away," he said. "(Owners) Barbara Banke (of Stonestreet Stables) and Peter Leidel have committed to running her next year and possibly the year after that. It's good for racing to have a filly of this quality to keep going. Hopefully, she can maintain her form to where she runs such great races."
Last year, Lady Aurelia won her career debut at Keeneland then captured the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot and the Darley Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville in France. She became the first American-trained runner to win a Cartier Award when she was named the 2016 champion 2-year-old filly of Europe.
Lady Aurelia opened her 2017 campaign with a win in the listed Keeneland's Giant Causeway Stakes in April.