Keeneland-based trainer Wesley Ward, who has 12 wins at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in England, on Friday sent out a group of horses he’s planning to race there next month for half-mile works over a turf course labeled “good.” Among them were returning Royal Ascot contenders Love Reigns (IRE) and Twilight Gleaming (IRE) along with American Rascal, a 2-year-old colt by Curlin who is the first foal out of European superstar Lady Aurelia, trained by Ward, and the juvenile colt Fandom (GB). All owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, the four horses captured races during Keeneland’s Spring Meet in April.
Royal Ascot will take place June 20-24.
Today’s work was the first on grass for American Rascal, who opened his career April 20 with a 10¼-length win while racing 4½ furlongs on dirt. Ridden by Joel Rosario in that race, he was timed in :51.21, the fastest of the meet at the distance.
Ward, the Spring Meet’s leading trainer with 12 wins, was pleased with today’s effort from American Rascal (clocked in :50), whose workmate, Fandom (:49.60), won his April 27 debut on dirt by 6¾ lengths. (Click here for a video of the work.)
“Julio (Garcia) was on him,” Ward said about American Rascal. “I wanted him to work nice and relaxed. Today was an ultra-impressive workout.”
Ward intends to race American Rascal in the June 22 Norfolk (G2) but has not determined the Royal Ascot race for Fandom.
Ward said he thought American Rascal’s talent would transfer to turf because of the success of Lady Aurelia, a daughter of Scat Daddy who won the 2016 Queen Mary (G2) and 2017 King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot and received the Cartier Racing Award as Europe’s 2-year-old filly of the year.
“To look at this horse, he’s all speed,” Ward said. “He looks like a running back: muscles on muscles, very compact. Just excited to see the next couple of works here. As long as all goes well, we’re heading to the Norfolk and we’re really excited about it.”
Working in company were Twilight Gleaming (:50) and Love Reigns (:50.40). (Click here for a video of the work.)
Twilight Gleaming, who won the April 15 Giant’s Causeway (L) under Irad Ortiz Jr., at 2 in 2021 was second in the Queen Mary, won a stakes at Deauville in France and took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Del Mar.
Love Reigns, who won the FanDuel Limestone (L) on April 14 with Rosario aboard, was fourth in the 2022 Queen Mary.
“Those were two nice works as well,” Ward said. “Julio (on Twilight Gleaming) broke off quite a bit behind Love Reigns and made up the ground down the lane, just comfortably. They finished together at the wire.”
Twilight Gleaming is being pointed to the June 20 King’s Stand (G1), while Love Reigns could race in the June 23 Commonwealth Cup (G1).
Ward said he plans to send six horses to Royal Ascot. They include Three Chimneys Farm’s Bundchen(:51.40), a 2-year-old filly by Gun Runner who worked today in company with Lael Stables’ Arrest Me Red (:51), who is being pointed at the June 10 Jaipur (G1) at Belmont Park. (Click here for a video of the work.)
His remaining Royal Ascot candidate is Ed and Susie Orr’s Candymaker, a 2-year-old Twirling Candy colt who won his debut four days ago on the turf at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Turf works at Keeneland are scheduled for the next two Fridays. Ward said his Royal Ascot squad would depart Indianapolis June 14 on a direct flight to London Stansted Airport. They will spend several days at nearby Chelmsford Racecourse before moving to Ascot.
Ward said Ortiz and Rosario will have Royal Ascot mounts on the horses they have been riding.