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Racing, Sales

Keeneland Debut Winners among Horses to Watch at Royal Ascot

Keeneland racing and sales are represented by a group of 2-year-olds – including Spring Meet debut winners Burning Pine, Saturday Flirt and Ultima Grace for trainer Wesley Ward and April Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale high seller Cheval de Guerre – during the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in England to be held Tuesday through Saturday.

Royal Ascot comprises 35 races, including eight Group 1 races, worth more than $12 million over five days. Fans may watch and wager on Royal Ascot through Keeneland Select, where users earn lucrative rewards and support Keeneland’s mission to invest in Thoroughbred racing. A portion of Keeneland Select’s profits is reinvested in the sport through increased purses, fan development, player development and more. Click here for more information.

Ward, who is based at Keeneland, was the Spring Meet’s leading trainer with 12 wins to top his peers for the seventh consecutive April season (includes a tie with Brad Cox in 2018) and record his 10th overall training title here. Winner of 12 races at Royal Ascot, Ward sent four horses to compete there this year.

Among the horses with Keeneland connections and others of interest entered in the Tuesday and Wednesday races at Royal Ascot are:

Tuesday, June 18

Race 2: Coventry (G2) (2-year-olds, 6 furlongs) at 10:05 a.m.

  • Angelo Buonarroti is a graduate of the 2023 September Yearling Sale, where the son of Justify was consigned by Ballysax Bloodstock, agent, and sold to Margaret O’Toole for $135,000. Raphael Freire trains the colt, who will be ridden by David Egan. He is owned by Amo Racing Limited.

Race 3: King Charles III (formerly the King’s Stand) (G1) (3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs) at 10:45 a.m.

  • Big Evs (IRE) won the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita.
  • Crimson Advocate last year left her U.S. base at Keeneland to capture the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot for trainer George Weaver. Now owned by Wathnan Racing and trained by John and Thady Gosden, the 3-year-old Nyquist filly is to remain in Europe. She will be ridden at Royal Ascot by William Buick.
  • Amo Racing, Mrs. R. O’Callaghan and G. De Aguiar’s Valiant Force, a 3-year-old colt by Malibu Moon who won last year’s Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot, is a graduate of two Keeneland sales. Bred by Ramon Horta Rangel and Spendthrift Farm, he was consigned as a weanling to the 2021 November Breeding Stock Sale by Mill Ridge Sales, agent, and sold for $75,000 to J.R.L. 3 Racing. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned Valiant Force to the 2022 September Sale, where he sold for $100,000 to Robson Aguiar/Roger O’Callahan. David Egan will ride for trainer Adrian Murray.

Race 6: Wolverton (4-year-olds and up, 1¼ miles) at 12:40 p.m.

  • Marc Detampel paid $50,000 for Bold Discovery at the 2021 September Sale from the consignment of Hunter Valley Farm, agent. Marc Chan owns the 4-year-old son of Bolt d’Oro, who will be ridden by Shane Foley for trainer Jessica Harrington.

Wednesday, June 19

Race 1: Queen Mary (G2) (2-year-old fillies, 5 furlongs) at 9:30 a.m.

  • Ultima Grace won her April 18 career debut at Keeneland by 3¾ lengths at 4½ furlongs on dirt for Ward. She races for co-breeder For The People Racing Stable and will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Race 2: Queen’s Vase (G2) (3-year-olds, 1¾ miles) at 10:05 a.m.

  • Amo Racing Limited’s Mr Hampstead, a colt by Galileo (IRE) out of Grade 1 winner and Keeneland Grade 2-placed Daddys Lil Darling, by Scat Daddy, sold to Robson Aguiar/AMO Racing for $575,000 at the 2022 September Sale. He was consigned by Denali Stud, agent. Trained by Dominic Ffrench Davis and ridden by David Egan, Mr Hampstead is a full brother to Group 1 winner Savethelastdance.

Race 4: Prince of Wales’s (G1) (4-year-olds and up, 1¼ miles) at 11:25 a.m.

  • Auguste Rodin (IRE) won the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita.
  • Inspiral (GB) won the 2023 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) and earned the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion turf female.

Race 7: Windsor Castle (L) (2-year-olds, 5 furlongs) at 1:15 p.m.

  • Resolute Racing paid the co-sale topping price of $450,000 for Cheval de Guerre at Keeneland’s April Sale a day after he ran second in his debut here. Oisin Murphy will ride the colt by Caravaggio for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
  • Soldi Stable’s Gabaldon won the May 11 Royal Palm Stakes at Gulfstream Park in his career debut to earn an invitation to compete in the Windsor Castle. Trained by Jose D’Angelo, the colt by Gone Astray will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.
  • Honorary American (IRE), the fourth horse Ward sent to Royal Ascot, finished third in his May 24 debut at Belmont At The Big A while racing 5½ furlongs in a race that was rained off the turf and moved to dirt. The Keeneland-based colt by Churchill (IRE) is owned by Will Stroud, Smart Choice Stable and Ocean Reef Racing. Joel Rosario will ride.

Additional horses with Keeneland connections expected in upcoming races at Royal Ascot include:

Thursday’s Norfolk (G2): Ward also bred Saturday Flirt, a daughter of Mendelssohn. Ward owned her on April 26, when she won her debut at 5½ furlongs on the Keeneland turf by 1¼ lengths. A few days before the Norfolk, he sold Saturday Flirt to Fitri Hay.

Friday’s Albany (G3): Burning Pine opened her career at Keeneland with a 3½-length victory April 26 going 4½ furlongs on dirt for Ward and owner Hat Creek Racing. Hat Creek paid $80,000 for the Nyquist filly at the 2023 September Sale.

Saturday’s Hardwicke (G2): Santa Anita-basedmultiple Grade 3 winner Missed the Cut, second in Keeneland’s VisitLEX Elkhorn (G2) in April in his most recent race, is trained by John Sadler for owners Bee Zee, Lane’s End Racing, St. Elias Stables, Edward P. Babington, Edward P. Hudson Jr., and Edward J. and Lynne Hudson. Missed the Cut sold as a weanling at Keeneland’s 2019 November Breeding Stock Sale from the consignment of Hunter Valley Farm, agent.