By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Wesley Ward is already eyeing next year’s Royal Ascot meeting with his Breeders’ Cup favourite Golden Pal.
The fleet-footed son of Uncle Mo, second in this year’s Norfolk Stakes at the royal meeting, is one of four Ward-trained runners in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland on Friday.
His trainer is thinking longer term, however. “Golden Pal is doing fantastic and I’m really excited about this guy,” said the trainer, who is bidding to repeat last year’s success with Four Wheel Drive.
“He’s had some unbelievable breezes coming into this race with no hiccups and he’s come together mentally. A lot of times with horses of this talent, this or that will happen. He breezes every week on the grass I have to really give Keeneland a lot of credit for that. He’s a great talent and he’s sound.
“This will be his last race until next year and we’ll hopefully point to the King’s Stand.”
Ward toyed with running Golden Pal against his elders in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York before lowering his sights to Saratoga stakes company, where he was a flashy winner.
Yet while the trainer has been in bullish mood about his Keeneland chances, Golden Pal will have to break from the outside gate under Irad Ortiz in a maximum field of 14 for the $1m contest.
He is joined by Ward-trained stablemates Amanzi Yimpilo, After Five and Into The Sunrise, while Blame The Booze is first reserve.
“Amanzi Yimpilo is very quick and fast and Luis (Saez) is on a roll right now,” Ward added. “After Five will make one run and he’ll be coming late. And with Into The Sunrise, I would have liked to go longer but it’s a Breeders’ Cup and he’s a good horse who has some nice works.”
Ward’s Breeders’ Cup contingent also features Queen Mary Stakes heroine Campanelle in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, where she is joined by Royal Approval. Outadore runs in the Juvenile Turf while Next runs in the Juvenile on dirt.