Edited Gulfstream Staff Release — Should Holding the Line be victorious in Saturday’s $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile at Gulfstream Park, the Irish-bred colt would earn an automatic berth in one of six races for 2-year-olds during the annual Royal Ascot meeting that has provided his owner with so many memories that will last a lifetime.
Steve Cauthen, best known in the U.S. for guiding Affirmed to a Triple Crown sweep in 1978 at the age of 18 before going on to become one of Europe’s most dominant jockeys, owns Holding the Line, who will face nine other 2-year-olds in Royal Palm Juvenile, a five-furlong turf dash that will be co-featured with the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five-furlong turf sprint for 2-year-old fillies, on Saturday’s program.
The inaugural runnings of the Royal Palm Juvenile and Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies will each provide the winner with an automatic entry into a Royal Ascot race June 20-24, as well as a $25,000 equine travel stipend for shipping from the U.S. to England, in addition to the winner’s share of a $100,000 purse.
Holding the Line, who is trained by 12-time Royal Ascot winner Wesley Ward, has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for his career debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile.
“It would be fantastic [to return to Royal Ascot with Holding the Line]. That’s the whole point why I got the horse – to try to do that,” Cauthen said from Kentucky. “It’s not that easy. They have to be ready and right to get over there, but I was excited when I read about Gulfstream having the qualifying races. It’s exciting to run in it, and hopefully we’re good enough to maybe get the job done.”
Cauthen will always be affectionately remembered as ‘The Kid’ who became the youngest jockey to sweep the U.S. Triple Crown when he guided Affirmed to victories in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) in 1978. Before making history during the 1978 Triple Crown at 18 years of age, Cauthen was named ‘Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year’ following his 1977 apprentice campaign, during which his mounts earned a then-record $6 million in purses.
In 1979, due to increasing difficulties maintaining a proper riding weight, Cauthen ventured to England, where he became a three-time champion and rode the winners of 10 English Classics, as well as enjoying considerable success at Royal Ascot, where he rode seven winners in 1987 and captured the Royal Ascot Gold Cup (G1) with Gildoran in 1984 and Paean in 1987.
“I won pretty much every race they run through the years. I’ve had a lot of fun there and success. It’s like Saratoga. It’s like a condensed Saratoga. Just the stakes races run in five days. The best of the best from all over – France, Italy, Germany. Anybody who’s good enough wants to be there,” said Cauthen, who retired in 1992 at the age of 32. “The Queen owned Ascot, so that makes it special. I was there last year and saw the new stands. It was very impressive. It’s always been great; it’s just getting even better. They never stop trying to improve over there.”
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been named to ride Holding the Line