By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Psst … wanna hear the name of Wesley Ward’s number one two-year-old hope for Royal Ascot?
Well, it should be easy to remember, because it is an unraced son of Malibu Moon called Fauci, a $170,000 Keeneland September yearling who is set to make his debut on June 3 at Belmont Park for Royal Ascot’s favourite adopted American son.
Speaking on the Luck on Sunday programme on Racing TV, Ward said the colt was named after Dr Anthony Fauci, who has become a familiar face in recent weeks in the US fight against coronavirus in his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Pressed to identify his principal two-year-old hope, Ward said: “I have a really, really nice colt for Ice Wine Stables, who owned No Nay Never in partnership with Coolmore.
“His owners are American-Italian and they named him after Dr Fauci,” added the trainer, who has saddled ten Royal Ascot winners in the past.
“He’s a very talented horse. He’s scheduled to run opening day at Belmont Park and we have a flight booked for him to go out on Friday June 5 if he performs as we think he is.”
Interviewed by broadcaster Nick Luck, Ward explained that he was still planning to send a team to the behind-closed-doors royal meeting next month, though logistical difficulties mean the trainer himself will not be making the trip.
The Ward string will be stationed at the National Stud, where some experienced high-profile help will be on hand in the shape of the trainer’s good buddy Frankie Dettori, six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon and Ollie Sangster.
“I have some staff in place who were here in the winter and went home to England in March, so they’re just waiting for the horses to come,” Ward added. “We’ve got planning in place and we’re all set.”
Ward intends to run last year’s Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Kimari in the Commonwealth Cup and is “leaning towards” the King’s Stand Stakes for Royal Ascot regular Bound For Nowhere.
With Keeneland’s Spring Meet being cancelled owing to coronavirus, Ward has been forced to improvise this year with his two-year-olds, many of whom have had to make their debuts on dirt.
Among them was the filly Flying Aletha, who led home a Ward one-two from stablemate Lime in a Gulfstream maiden on Thursday.
“We’ve been having to switch things around,” the trainer went on. “Nothing’s really concrete with them yet but a couple of the winners we’ve had are certainly gonna be coming over as well as some who are going to be running this week. My best ones are yet to start!”