Graded Stakes Could be Next for Jackie's Warrior Half-Sis White Sands

White Sands | Coady Media

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Wesley Ward admitted he was looking for an easy spot for  White Sands (Into Mischief) to make her first racetrack appearance, but when the half-sister to sprint champion Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) romped by 9 1/2 lengths in her debut at Belterra Park in May, the trainer immediately circled the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes on his calendar. The filly duly delivered again in that 5 1/2-furlong event, defeating the boys in a 13 3/4-length demolition at Prairie Meadows last Saturday.

“We had a long time with her,” Ward said of the filly who is owned by Coolmore's Mrs. John Magnier and Mrs. Paul Shanahan. “She only has one eye, so we kind of took our time. With her breeding, being a sister of Jackie's Warrior, we wanted everything to go right. She never had any hiccups at all. I just kind of trained her from the onset with a friend. And we kind of broke her loose where she would train by herself, as we do with all of them, we just took a little extra time with her.”

Of the decision to ship the filly to Belterra Park in Ohio for her May 25 unveiling, Ward explained, “I knew how important it was to hopefully get a win with her, break her maiden, so that's why we chose Belterra. It seemed the easiest spot for a first-time starter. She won easy. I knew she was much better than that, but you never know when you get to say Churchill or Keeneland, what you are going to be up against. So I kind of thought making the entry that this would be our best chance to break her maiden like she did.”

White Sands was barely cooled out from that debut victory when Ward had his eyes on what he hoped would be an easy chance for his filly to add some black-type to her resume.

“I was trying to hopefully get a stakes win and or placing,” Ward said. “I thought, since she had won so convincingly and came out of it completely sound, let me look for a place to run her not Saratoga or Del Mar. You are always going to hook Todd Pletcher and the boys on one coast and Bob Baffert on the other. I thought, let me try somewhere where you're not going to see those types of names in the race with you.”

White Sands, facing off against five colts, was never challenged in her wire-to-wire victory in the Prairie Gold Juvenile (video).

“I like to run fillies against colts,” Ward said. “I think it's an advantage. We got in light and we had a rider, Joe Bravo, who has won thousands and thousands of races and is a light guy.”

Running against the colts in Iowa also allowed Ward to dodge other trainers trying to get their well-pedigreed fillies some early black-type.

“I just thought it would be a little bit of an advantage,” Ward admitted. “Knowing that the fillies, early on, are looking to do what we did. They are trying to get black-type on their fillies and you'd certainly be ducking all of them, if not all, as we did.”

Of the filly's effort Saturday, Ward said, “She certainly moved way forward from her first race. She came right back to Keeneland here. She came out of the race completely sound. No issues. No shins. She is a real hardy filly as it is. As you would expect from a filly who lost her eye early on as a foal. I thought it was a great run and she came out of it ready for another one.”

With her first stakes win out of the way, White Sands may now have earned herself a graded stakes engagement.

“I talked it over with everyone from Coolmore,” Ward said. “It seems like we will go out to California now and look at the [Aug. 10 GIII] Sorrento Stakes [at Del Mar]. We will watch the filly train the next couple of weeks and see if she is up to that, but with these two races underneath her and the convincing wins, to try to get her a stakes win or placing in a graded race–and sort of a historical race, being the Sorrento–that would really add to her pedigree.”

White Sands's older half-brother Jackie's Warrior, a five-time Grade I winner, obviously excelled at sprint distances. What does Ward think the future holds for his 2-year-old half-sister?

“She's a very smart filly, but as you've seen already with her pedigree and Jackie's Warrior, I'd have to say that right now, sprinting would probably be it,” Ward said. “But they can certainly carry their speed at two more so than as they get older.”

Ward said he doesn't think the loss of an eye, which happened in a paddock incident as a foal, will have any impact on her racing career.

“She's lived her whole life without it and I don't think it really bothers her that much,” he said. “She runs like hell, that's for sure.”

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