A gaggle of horses from the barn of Wesley Ward breezed Tuesday morning over the Keeneland turf course as they continue their preparation for appearances at next month's Royal Ascot meeting.
Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy) is being readied for a third straight appearance at Royal Ascot, with a defense of her title in the June 19 G1 King's Stand S. on the cards. Also victorious in the G2 Queen Mary S. in 2016, Lady Aurelia was clocked in :48.80 for her half-mile breeze inside of stakes winner Hemp Hemp Hurray (Artie Schiller) and last-out GII Shakertown S. hero Bound For Nowhere (The Factor). Clockers caught Hemp Hemp Hurray in :49 flat and Bound For Nowhere in :49.20. But most of all, Ward was pleased with what he saw from Lady Aurelia.
“Last year, working into the [GI] Breeders' Cup [Turf Sprint], I thought she was getting complacent, kinda easy-going, taking things in stride,” Ward told the Keeneland notes team. “For whatever reason, she went out to Del Mar and didn't fire and maybe that was a telltale sign that she wasn't relaxed and doing things on her own. Now she's really aggressive like she has been in the past. That's what you want to see going to where we've been a couple of times before.”
WATCH: Lady Aurelia works inside of Hemp Hemp Hurray and Bound For Nowhere
Ward indicated that Bound For Nowhere, a good fourth in last year's G1 Commowealth Cup, also has the King's Stand as his target.
“We wanted to give him a cruising work today–nothing real serious until probably next week when we tighten him down a little bit,” Ward said. “He's doing everything great. [Hall of Fame jockey] Gary Stevens worked him last week and loved the way he went. This week was more of a maintenance breeze. He came through with just what I wanted him to do.”
Three-year-old Hemp Hemp Hurray has either the G3 Jersey S. June 20 or the June 22 Commonwealth Cup as his Ascot objectives.
A trio of juveniles who contributed to Ward's 13 winners to tie for top training honors at Keeneland last month also worked towards Ascot. They are 'TDN Rising Star' Chelsea Cloisters (First Samurai), heading towards the Queen Mary June 20; Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby), targeting the June 21 G2 Norfolk S.; and Stillwater Cove (Quality Road), who is being aimed at the G3 Albany S. June 22. Working in company, Chelsea Cloisters and Stillwater Cove covered a half-mile in :49. Shang Shang Shang had the same time for her work in company with two other Ward horses.
“I'm very appreciative of Keeneland for letting me [work young horses on the turf course] to see which ones do and don't like the grass,” Ward said. “Even though they win convincingly on dirt, they [sometimes] don't translate that to grass.”
Ward plans on working every Tuesday at Keeneland, weather permitting. The horses are scheduled to depart Indianapolis June 4.