Wednesday, April 15, 2020
HALLANDALE BEACH - With 55 2-year-olds in training, Wesley Ward is more than ready for the start of the 2020 juvenile racing season to get under way Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
Under normal circumstances, Ward would have already celebrated several juvenile victories by the middle of April, but the cancellation of Keeneland’s spring meet due to the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed his traditional early-season domination of 2-year-old races at the Kentucky track.
Although he won’t be the grand marshal of his annual parade into Keeneland’s winner’s circle this year, Ward is grateful that Gulfstream will provide opportunities, beginning with Race 2 on Thursday’s program.
“When the news came out [about Covid-19], I backed off early," Ward said. "The faster, quicker ones were meant for Keeneland. When Keeneland announced they were closing, we went ahead with a new plan and brought them back here. We’ve been right down here and getting ready for these races. Fortunately, Gulfstream is still running, so we’ve got some opportunities.”
Ward is scheduled to saddle Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Lime in the 4 ½-furlong dash for juvenile fillies. The Ward-bred daughter of Iqbaal produced ‘bullet’ four-furlong workouts at Keeneland [March 19] and Turfway Park [March 25] before a maintenance four-furlong breeze at Gulfstream West on April 4.
“The horses I run here right off the bat are very, very quick and speedy," Ward said. "Those are the ones I’ve targeted for these early races. She is all that. Very fast, very smart. She’s a big filly." He named Tyler Gaffalione to ride the Florida-bred filly. “The quicker fillies are usually the smaller fillies, but she’s very quick and agile.”
Ward is also scheduled to saddle Golden Pal, a son of Uncle Mo, for a start in a $65,000 maiden special for 2-year-olds on Friday’s program.
“He’s very fast," Ward said. "Obviously, pedigree-wise he’s a lot stronger than the filly on that side of things. But they’re equally as talented; they’re both very fast, very forward, very smart and very well-schooled, being at different tracks. They’re going to bring their ‘A’ games to the races.”
Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $1.5 million
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The Rainbow 6 will span Races 6-11 on Thursday’s program. First-race post time for Thursday’s 11-race card is set for 1 p.m.