By Jon Lees
USA: Wesley Ward is eyeing the Breeders’ Cup with star juvenile Golden Pal, who recorded a blistering win at Saratoga on Friday – in the process recording the highest Beyer speed figure of the year by a two-year-old.
Rather than taking on Battaash in the Nunthorpe Stakes with the Norfolk Stakes runner-up, Ward decided to stay closer to home in the Skidmore Stakes, a black-type race over 5½f.
Golden Pal broke smartly under Irad Ortiz and was never headed as he recorded a gate-to-wire victory over by 3½ lengths over Ward-trained stablemate Fauci.
The son of Uncle Mo recorded a Beyer speed figure of 92 on the Saratoga turf – the best of 2020 by any two-year-old – to firmly establish himself as a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Ward’s home track Keeneland on November 6.
“He’s something special, this guy,” said Ward. “I think we just got a little peek at it. From everything we’ve seen here, they’re coming into his home court like Michael Jordan in the United Center in the Breeders’ Cup this year. He’s a very, very nice colt.
“[The owner] afforded me the time that myself and my team have needed, and this horse had some issues and my team has really worked hard on this guy. He’s so fast and he’s so gifted. To get him to this point is special.”
Sent off 9-20 favourite, Golden Pal was breaking his maiden at Saratoga having run two seconds previously, including when beaten at neck by The Lir Jet at Royal Ascot.
“He’s a really cool horse,” said winning jockey Ortiz. “It’s special when you get on horses like that. I’m so happy to be able to get on him. Hopefully he stays sound and healthy and he can keep doing what he did today.”