Trainer Wesley Ward has been anxious to get started this season with a pair of juvenile stakes winners from a year ago, Cambria and Maven. He’ll finally get his chance Wednesday on opening day of Keeneland's five-day summer meet.
Cambria, who hasn’t started since last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; and Maven, a Group 3 winner in France last season for Ward and owner Richard Ravin, are both entered in Wednesday’s feature, a 5 ½-furlong turf allowance for 3-year-old fillies.
Cambria and Maven have both been working steadily since early May at Keeneland. Ward noted Cambria has been ready to race, but factors have kept her in the barn including the coronavirus-related changes to the racing schedule.
“She’s been doing great," Ward said. "I’ve been looking to get her going for months now."
A Stonestreet Stables’ homebred, Cambria reeled off three straight wins to start her career last year, including the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Sprint Stakes in September. The daughter of Speightstown next tried the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Park where she finished a non-factor ninth.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will again have the call for Wednesday’s comeback effort, which drew a field of 11 with one entered as main-track only. It is carded as the eighth race and has an approximate post time of 4:57 p.m. Eastern.
Maven is an intriguing son of American Pharoah who’ll make his first start since last July’s Glorious Goodwood meeting in England. After winning on debut at Aqueduct in April 2019, he was shipped to Chantilly where she promptly scored in the Prix du Bois (G3). Maven closed out the year with an off-the-board effort in the July 31 Molecomb Stakes (G3) at Glorious Goodwood.
Maven was bred by Ward and was entered at last year’s Goffs London Sale, where she failed to meet her reserve on a lofty final bid of $912,703.
Wednesday’s eighth race has drawn a seemingly wide-open field. One other notable contender is trainer Bret Calhoun’s Digital, who will switch to turf for the first time after previously this winter trying the likes of the Risen Star (G3) and Oaklawn Stakes on the main track.
Keeneland has nine races carded for the opening program of it's summer meet, which runs daily through Sunday.