By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Wesley Ward unveiled a prime candidate for the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on Sunday when Campanelle showed her rivals a clean pair of heels with a blistering display of speed on her debut in a 5f turf contest at at Gulfstream Park.
On the other hand, the trainer’s potential team for the royal meeting lost a name when sprinter Bound For Nowhere was ruled out in favour of a race at Belmont Park, where another potential Ascot contender Fauci is set to make his debut on Wednesday.
Carrying the Lady Aurelia colours of owners Stonestreet Stables, front-running Campanelle stopped the clock in a rapid 55.66s in Sunday’s maiden special weight contest at Gulfstream Park, where she scored by 3½ lengths from stablemate Royal Approval.
Nik Juarez did the steering in what was the first juvenile turf contest to be run in the States in 2020. The front two were nearly ten lengths clear of the third-placed horse and Ward immediately mentioned a trip to Britain.
“Both horses early on were meant for Royal Ascot, then all this [coronavirus pandemic] came about,” he explained.
“For the most part, we’d have had a turf race or two at Belmont early on but this is the first turf race in the United States this year, and to run one-two was a big go. We’re finally getting on track.
“The other filly who was second is also very talented,” added Ward. ”She’s a bigger filly. We’ll sit down with the owners of both fillies to see what they want to do moving forward. Both of these fillies, I kept them both in Florida, because they’re much better on turf than dirt.”
Three of Ward’s ten Royal Ascot have come in the Queen Mary, with Lady Aurelia (2016) preceded by Jealous Again (2009) and Acapulco (2015).
The trainer’s potential team is taking shape, with two-year-olds Flying Aletha and Golden Pal likely to make the trip – plus Fauci, a son of Malibu Moon nominated by Ward as a horse to follow, and set to run on Wednesday at the start of Belmont Park’s 25-day spring/summer meet, delayed by the coronavirus shutdown.
“He’s training unbelievable,” said Ward, speaking to NYRA reporters. “He’s a bigger colt. He doesn’t have a typical speed horse look to him. It looks like he’ll go a little further. He has a long stride and is just an athlete. He goes just as fast as you want him to.”
However, Bound For Nowhere will not be making the trip to Royal Ascot after Ward changed plans and target the G1 Jaipur on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 20.
“We were going to go to Ascot, but with the Breeders’ Cup being in Keeneland this fall I don’t want to keep moving him around too much,” Ward told the NYRA team.
Last year’s Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Kimari remains on course for the Commonwealth Cup but Wardis “scratching his head” over a dismal seasonal debut from previously unbeaten Breeders’ Cup winner Four Wheel Drive at Churchill Downs on May 17.
“He came out of the race with no issues,” said Ward. “Other than his stutter step at the start, it’s hard to find an excuse. You’d think an undefeated Breeders’ Cup winner would be able to sit back and make a run, but he didn’t.”
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