By Gulfstream Press Staff – 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.
“We’re getting started late this year,” Ward said, “so I’m very excited to get started.”
“When the news came out [about the Covid-19 pandemic], I backed off early. 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,” Ward said. “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 Thursday. 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 Park West April 4.
“The horses I run here right off the bat are very, very quick and speedy. Those are the ones I’ve targeted for these early races. She is all that. Very fast, very smart. She’s a big filly,” said Ward, who 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 weight race for 2-year-olds on Friday’s program.
“He’s very fast. 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,” Ward said. “They’re going to bring their ‘A’ games to the races.”
While Ward runners have dominated 2-year-old races in Kentucky, Jacks or Better Farm homebreds have enjoyed unparalleled success in the juvenile division in South Florida. Awesome View, a daughter of Awesome of Course, will attempt to carry on the tradition of excellence of Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm while facing seven fillies, including Lime, Thursday. Awesome View drew the rail post position, just inside Lime.
“Fred’s horses have been here for three weeks. With the Corona thing, we got them a little later than normal, but he always does a great job at the farm getting them ready for the 4 ½-furlong races,” trainer Ralph Nicks said. “Awesome View trains fine. We’ll see if she’s fast enough. Drawing the one-hole, it’s all about the break”
Edgard Zayas has the call on Awesome View.
Arindel is represented by two homebreds in Thursday’s field, Quinoa Tifah, a daughter of Gemologist who has produced several ‘bullet’ workouts in preparation for her debut, and Pretzel, a daughter of Brethren who is a half-sister of stakes-winner Sweet Khaleesi.
Rounding out the field are Kitten’s Dream, Sophisticurl, Yafa, and Sister Aurora.