Trainer Wesley Ward, who has 12 wins at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting, sent out a group of horses Friday for half-mile works at Keeneland in preparation for next month’s trip to England.
Returning Royal Ascot contenders Love Reigns and Twilight Gleaming were among the workers. So were American Rascal, a 2-year-old colt by Curlin who is the first foal out of Ward’s Europe star Lady Aurelia, and the juvenile colt Fandom.
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.
Friday’s work was the first on grass for American Rascal, who opened his career April 20 with a 10 1/4-length win racing 4 1/2 furlongs on dirt. Ridden by Joel Rosario in that race, he was timed at 51.21 seconds, the fastest of the meet at the distance.
Ward, the spring meet’s leading trainer with 12 wins, was pleased with Friday’s effort from American Rascal, who was clocked at 50.0 on the turf rated good. His workmate Fandom, clocked at 49.6 seconds, won his April 27 debut on dirt by 6 3/4 lengths.
“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. He 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.”
Twilight Gleaming at 50.0 seconds and Love Reigns at 50.4 seconds worked in company.
Twilight Gleaming, who won the April 15 Giant’s Causeway under Irad Ortiz Jr., was second at age 2 in the 2021 Queen Mary. She won a stakes at Deauville in France and took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar.
Love Reigns, who won the Limestone 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), and 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, a 2-year-old filly by Gun Runner who was timed at 51.4 working in company with Lael Stables’ Arrest Me Red. After his 51.0-second breeze, he is being pointed at the June 10 Jaipur (G1) at Belmont Park.
Ed and Susie Orr’s Candymaker, a 2-year-old Twirling Candy colt who won his debut Monday on the turf at Horseshoe Indianapolis, Ward’s other Royal Ascot candidate.
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. They then 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.