Ward Says Royal Ascot Contingent His Best Ever

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Wesley Ward | Keeneland

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Since he won his first ever race at Royal Ascot in 2009, trainer Wesley Ward has attacked the meeting with quantity and quality and the result has been 12 wins. But he says this year's group, which will consist of at least seven horses, is the best he has ever sent overseas for what is the U.K.'s premier race meeting.

“I have never been as strong as this,” he said.

The surprise is that Ward's group of 2-year-olds, usually his strong suit, is not deep. He only has two, 'TDN Rising Star' Love Reigns (Ire) (US Navy Flag) and No Nay Hudson (Ire) (No Nay Never), that are definitely headed there.

“In years past at Belmont, they always ran those early maiden 2-year-old races on the turf,” he said. “They always went. If I won one of those races, I'd send those horses over there. This year, it's unfortunate that, for whatever reason, none of those races went. A lot of people are giving me turf sprinters. They're not the same horses on dirt and I'm reluctant to start them on the dirt. I've been waiting for grass races. There have only been two 2-year-old races run on grass in North America so far this year, both at Keeneland. People are buying horses for me to try to get them to Royal Ascot, but you can't go if you don't get them a start beforehand.”

Ward is hoping to find turf maidens for some of his 2-year-olds within the next 10 days or so and said that could lead to additions to his team.

Here's a look at who Ward plans on sending to Royal Ascot:

Golden Pal (Uncle Mo): Ward has said that this is the best horse he has ever trained and Golden Pal has the record to back that up. He is six-for-nine lifetime and has won the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and the GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He is expected to be the favourite in the G1 King's Stand S. on Tuesday, June 14.

“This is a big one for him,” Ward said. “He was second there as a 2-year-old in the [G2] Norfolk [S.] and was unlucky to be beaten. I am going back this year and he has never been better in his life. He is my most likely winner.”

Love Reigns: The 2-year-old filly is scheduled to run in the G2 Queen Mary S. on Wednesday, June 15. She broke her maiden on Apr. 29 at Keeneland, winning a 5 1/2-furlong grass race by 9 3/4 lengths.

No Nay Hudson; The 2-year-old colt will run in the Windsor Castle S. also on June 15. He won a 4 1/2-furlong dirt maiden at Keeneland by four lengths.

Asymmetric (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}): Is a new addition to the Ward barn after being campaigned in the U.K. by trainer Alan King. The 3-year-old has not started since Sept. 25. His biggest win came in the G2 Richmond S. He will go in the June 17 G1 Commonwealth Cup.

“It took a little while to get him going and figure him out,” Ward said. “He wasn't working very well when we first started breezing him. He started doing better, but not as good as you'd expect from what his form showed. These last couple of workouts were great. Really, really good. He outworked a really good horse of mine, Outadore, and did it very nicely. I am looking for him to run a good race.”

'TDN Rising Star' Ruthin (GB) (Ribchester {Ire}): The now 3-year-old warmed up for Ascot with a win in the Apr. 15 Limestone S. at Keeneland. She is slated to take on males in the June 17 Palace of Holyroodhouse S. at five furlongs. She finished seventh last year at Ascot in the Windsor Castle S.

Her World (Ire) (Caravaggio): Another filly, she will also run in the Palace of Holyroodhouse S, but has had only two career starts, including a third-place finish in the Limestone.

Campanelle (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}): The filly will be seeking her third win at Royal Ascot when she starts in the G1 Platinum Jubilee S. on Saturday, June 18. She won the G1 Commonwealth Cup there last year and the G2 Queen Mary S. the year before. She also captured the Giant's Causeway S. at Keeneland in her Royal Ascot prep.

“She ran a big race here at Keeneland in her comeback,” Ward said. “She thrives here at Keeneland and every work has been great. I look forward to a big run from her. But this will be her toughest assignment over there yet because she'll be taking on older horses. She's a big powerful mare. She's strong and imposing. I think she will run a big race.”

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