Barn Tour: Ward has 9 invaders ready for Royal Ascot

Barn Tour: Ward has 9 invaders ready for Royal Ascot
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Check out Barn Tours on Horse Racing Nation

Lexington, Ky.

Wesley Ward became the first American trainer to win a race at Royal Ascot in 2009. Since then, he has won 11 races at the meet.

Ward returns in 2021, bringing nine horses to this month's races.

Ahead of his trip to England, Ward updated Horse Racing Nation and the VSiN racing podcast on the status of his Ascot horses, plus one of his other top runners, Kimari.


The lone 4-year-old Ward is taking to Ascot is American Pharoah gelding Maven, who comes in off a win in an April 15 allowance race at Keeneland, going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Maven will likely run in the King’s Stand (G1), going five furlongs on June 15.

“He just breezed in company with probably the fastest older mare (Kimari) in the country and they were heads up at the wire, which is very good,” Ward said. “...He deserves to go over there.”


The 3-year-old filly will make her first trip of 2021 in the Commonwealth Cup (G1), going six furlongs against males.

“She’s gotten to where she’s traveled to Europe to race twice now, so she’s very seasoned,” Ward said. “She’s doing everything great in the morning.”

Napa Spirit

One of Ward’s top 2-year-olds, Napa Spirit, will take on the Coventry (G2) at Ascot. The race will see him running six furlongs against other 2-year-olds.

The Invincible Spirit colt won his debut at Keeneland by 1 1/2 lengths, going five furlongs on the turf.

“He’s shown he can go a little bit further,” Ward said. “He’s a bigger, stretching colt.”

Nakatomi and Lucci

The pair of 2-year-olds both were being considered by Ward for the Norfolk (G2). The trainer discussed how he was preparing the two for success in the same race.

“They're going to work on a weekly succession,” Ward said. “Each and every work you’re going to evaluate … and we've just got to keep moving forward."


Another 2-year-old for Ward, Ruthin, a Ribchester filly, will run in the Queen Mary (G2), going five furlongs. Ward spoke highly of the filly, who won her debut at Keeneland by six lengths.

“She was from the onset my favorite from her first few breezes that we had, and then she went on to win by a significant margin at Keeneland,” Ward said. “She came out of her race great and work since has been very, very good.”

Golden Bell

A Macho Uno filly, who won her debut going 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland on the dirt by 5 1/4 lengths, Golden Bell will run in the Albany (G2), going six furlongs at Ascot.

Ward said the 2-year-old filly had no problems with the transition to working on grass.

“I was really happy with her,” Ward said.

Twilight Gleaming

Beaten at Keeneland in April, the 2-year-old filly moved to Belmont, where she broke her maiden on second asking May 9, going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass.

She will run in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes, going five furlongs.

“Hopefully we can have a really nice filly there and get her a win in a listed stake,” Ward said.


Ward was unsure of the race, but Kaufymaker will race at Ascot after what Ward said was an excellent final work at Keeneland, going four furlongs in 48.6.

She won her debut at the track, going 4 1/2 furlongs on the dirt.

“She had a big long, lengthy stride today,” Ward said after the work. “Probably the most impressive that I’ve seen.”


A two-time second place fisher at Ascot, 4-year-old Kimari will not be making this year’s trip, with Ward instead opting to run her next in the the Honorable Miss (G2) on July 28 at Saratoga.

The Munnings filly has won her last two races, the Spring Fever at Oaklawn in February, and the Madison (G1) at Keeneland on April 3. She last worked May 28, going five furlongs in 1:00.8 on the grass at Keeneland.

“She’s a big (filly),” Ward said. “Kind of want to not let her get too heavy, which she’ll tend to do, so this will certainly tighten her down and the grass will keep her nice and sound as she is right now. Looking forward to a big summer, fall campaign.”

Top Stories

Arlington Heights, Ill.   From vendors to ushers....
A colt who has gamely fought the best of his crop...
The 2021 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx is set to...
Besides the great stakes action at Parx Racing, th...
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s Royal Patronage (F...