American Pharoah colt aims for Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes

By Jim Gluckson/Breeders' Cup
June 19, 2019 12:13pm
American Pharoah colt aims for Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

King Power Racing’s Sovereign Sunday  (GB), the Wesley Ward-trained Maven and Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s King Neptune (IRE) lead a field of 15 in Thursday’s five-furlong Norfolk Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds at Royal Ascot, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.

As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fee for the Norfolk winner to start in the $1 million Juvenile Turf, and will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.


Down from Ireland, Sovereign Sunday, trained by Paddy Twomey and ridden by W.J. Lee, has won two of three starts, including his last two, first breaking his maiden by three lengths on May 6 in the Coolmore Sioux Nation EBF at The Curragh as the 11-4 favorite. A bay son of Equiano (FR) out of the Danzig Connection mare Red Sovereign (GB), Sovereign Sunday was even more impressive in his next start, winning the five-furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median on June 5 at Tipperary by seven lengths over a soft course. 


Wesley Ward has trained two winners of the Norfolk Stakes, first taking the 2013 edition with No Nay Never and again last year with the Florida-bred filly Shang Shang Shang. This year, he saddles Richard Ravin’s Maven, a chestnut son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of Richies Party Girl by Any Given Saturday. Maven, ridden on Thursday by Tyler Gaffalione, has made one start, breaking his maiden in a 4 ½-furlong dirt race at Aqueduct in New York on April 19. Maven will bid to be the first horse by American Pharoah to win a stakes race.


King Neptune, a dark bay son of War Front, broke his maiden at Dundalk in April, but has failed to sustain drive in his last two starts at the Curragh, finishing second both times for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Bred in Kentucky by Frank Hutchinson, King Neptune disappointed at 2-5 losing his second start in the listed five-furlong First Flyer Stakes on May 6. On May 24, he was defeated again by 2 ½ lengths in the listed six-furlong  Marble Hill Stakes. O’Brien is seeking his fourth win in the Norfolk, which includes victories by 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Johannesburg, Waterloo Bridge (IRE) in 2015 and Sioux Nation in 2017. Donnacha O’Brien has the mount aboard King Neptune.


Shaikh Duaijal Khalifa’s A Ali (IRE), ridden by Frankie Dettori, will try to break his maiden on Thursday for trainer Simon Crisford. In his only start, the bay son of Society Rock (IRE) out of the Motivator (GB) mare Motion Lass (GB), was defeated by a neck to Spartan Fighter (GB) in the five-furlong British Stallion Studs EFB Novice at Ripon on June 5 as the 5-4 favorite.


Godolphin’s Expressionist (IRE), a chestnut son of Night of Thunder (IRE), has a win over the course when he captured Ascot’s five-furlong Barbados Novice Stakes on May 11 as the 5-2 favorite for trainer Charlie Appleby. Expressionist will be ridden by James Doyle. 


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