Ward Workers Highlight Keeneland Tab

Happy Soul | Sarah Andrew

By all accounts, trainer Wesley Ward is planning on coming out full force when Keeneland opens the doors on its spring meeting Friday, Apr. 8. To that end, four of the stable's stars tuned up for opening weekend stakes engagements Saturday morning in Lexington.

Happy Soul (Runhappy) is set to represent Ward in the GI Central Bank Ashland S., her first try around two turns, and the Gayla Rankin-owned filly blitzed six furlongs in a race-like 1:11.20 Saturday morning. Since dropping her career debut at Keeneland last April, Happy Soul has won three straight including the Feb. 19 Dixie Belle S. at Oaklawn Park. John Velazquez has the call in the Ashland.

Working on a Keeneland turf course with a bit of give in it were Ward's two 2021 Breeders' Cup winners, Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) and 'TDN Rising Star' Twilight Gleaming (Ire) (National Defense {GB}). Winner of last year's GI Turf Sprint to go along with his victory in the 2020 GII Juvenile Turf Sprint, Golden Pal makes his 4-year-old debut in the GII Shakertown S. Apr. 9 and covered the distance in 1:01.20. Twilight Gleaming, who took out last year's Juvenile Turf Sprint, was timed in 1:01.40 and goes in the Listed Palisades S. Apr. 10.

Campanelle (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), whose two wins at Royal Ascot include the 2021 G1 Commonwealth Cup, galloped five furlongs on turf in 1:02.40.

“I'm feeling great,” said Ward, in search of a fourth consecutive spring title at Keeneland. “We've got a lot of horses in various different categories–a lot of nice stakes horses. The 2-year-olds are always fun to see which ones blossom. This is the highlight of opening up my year to see how we're going to progress. We're really looking forward to it–as is everyone who comes to Keeneland in the spring. It's a great place to be–the only place to be.”

Ward is also set to saddle defending champ and 'Rising Star' Kimari (Munnings) in Saturday's GI Madison S. and one of her chief adversaries, Bell's the One (Majesticperfection), got her final tune up Saturday in Lexington. A dead-heat second last year, the 6-year-old went an easy half-mile in :49.60.

“I didn't want anything real fast,” trainer Neil Pessin said. “All of her major work was done at Fair Grounds [where she had eight works following a 2 1/2-month break].”

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