In front of some 30 owners, breeders and interested onlookers who gathered Monday morning in the Keeneland Grandstand, European champion Lady Aurelia and 10 other horses trained by Wesley Ward worked on the turf course in preparation for upcoming starts at Royal Ascot or elsewhere.
Lady Aurelia, who won last year’s Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot and is pointed at the June 20 King’s Stand (G1) on opening day of the prestigious five-day meet, was in the first set with Bound for Nowhere, who is to race in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot three days later. The pair covered five furlongs on a firm turf course dampened by morning showers in 1:00.80.
“I was going to go into the work a little easy, but when we got that little bit of rain with the give in the ground I thought it would be a good time – two weeks out – to let her skip along, so I changed my plan a little bit,” said Ward, who has won seven races at Royal Ascot. “She worked tremendous.”
Lady Aurelia, a 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, is owned by Stonestreet Stables, George Bolton and Peter Leidel. Last year, she also won the Darley Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville in France in August and was third in the Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park (G1) at Newmarket in England in September. The filly made her 2017 debut on April 15 at Keeneland, defeating older rivals in the 5½-furlong Giant’s Causeway (L) on the turf. Since then, she has had four works here in preparation for the King’s Stand, a 5-furlong race for 3-year-olds and older horses.
Ward also had high praise for Bound for Nowhere, a 3-year-old colt he owns who frequently works with Lady Aurelia.
“(He) is getting better by the day,” Ward said about the son of The Factor. “He’s a formidable foe for (Lady Aurelia). She’s still an inch or two better there at the wire than him – which she should be – (and today’s work is) very promising for him. He’s got a big, long stride and he’s going to want to go another eighth of a mile. She kinda scampers.”
Ward sent out a total of 11 horses in five sets for works on the Keeneland turf course. The other horses were:
Hat Creek Racing’s stakes winner Con Te Partiro, headed to Royal Ascot for the Sandringham (L) on June 21, covered 5 furlongs in 1:00.40. Her workmate was Wes Welker and Elizabeth Kumin’s Undrafted, who will race in Saturday’s Jaipur Invitational (G3) at Belmont Park. Undrafted’s time was 1:00.60.
Waterford Stable’s stakes-placed McErin (Norfolk-G2 on June 22 at Royal Ascot) covered 4 furlongs in :48.20. His workmate, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Nuclear Option, timed in :48.80, will not travel to Royal Ascot.
Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Arawak (Coventry-G2 on June 20) and Merriebelle Stable’s Happy Like a Fool (Queen Mary on June 21) worked 4 furlongs in :48.
Going 4 furlongs were Hat Creek Racing’s Elizabeth Darcy (IRE) (Windsor Castle-L on June 20) and Stonestreet Stables’ Princess Peggy (possibly the Albany-G3 on June 23), who were timed in :47.60. Tabor, Smith and John Magnier’s Fairyland (Albany) began her work several lengths behind the pair and was clocked in :47.40.
Lady Aurelia and the other Ward horses going to Royal Ascot will leave Keeneland tonight for about a three-hour van ride to Indianapolis and a flight to London Stansted Airport that departs Tuesday at 4:30 a.m. The horses will be sent to Newmarket.
Ward, who flies to England on Sunday, said Lady Aurelia “will work in company (with Bound for Nowhere) a week from tomorrow at Ascot and get a feel for the course again. The others probably will work at the Rowley Mile in Newmarket.”
In 2009, Ward became the first American trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot when Strike the Tiger captured the Windsor Castle at odds of 33-1. The next day, he sent out Jealous Again to win the Queen Mary. His other wins are the 2013 Norfolk with No Nay Never, 2014 Windsor Castle with Hootenanny, 2015 Diamond Jubilee (G1) with Undrafted, 2015 Queen Mary with Acapulco and 2016 Queen Mary with Lady Aurelia.