By Jon Lees
USA: Wesley Ward is off the mark for 2020 after Sunshine City became his first two-year-old winner of the year at Gulfstream Park on Thursday.
Ward has not given up on assembling a team to fulfil his annual trip to Royal Ascot this year, even though the meeting is not certain to go ahead and will be behind closed doors if it does take place.
Ward traditionally dominates early juvenile events but had saddled two losing favourites in the first two maiden special weight races at Gulfstream last week, both horses finishing second after setting the pace.
Sunshine City, a daughter of Creative Cause, was sent off an even-money favourite for a low-level $25,000 maiden claimer on the dirt. She closed from well off the pace to score by 1 ½ lengths under Irad Ortiz for well-known owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Ward will be represented by Lucky As A Seven, whom he owns and bred, in a similar contest on Friday, with Ortiz again in the plate. The son of Tale Of The Cat is rated at 4-5 in the morning line.
Ortiz, who returned from a hiatus to ride four winners on Saturday, rode three more winners on Thursday’s card, scoring aboard Monmouth Dr and Bella Ciao as well as Sunshine City.