Wesley Ward’s Lady Aurelia worked at Keeneland in America on Tuesday for the first time since her defeat on seasonal debut last month in preparation for a defence of her King’s Stand Stakes crown at Royal Ascot.
The four—year-old, who will be seeking a third win in a row at Royal Ascot following her runaway success in the Queen Mary in 2016 and last year’s sprint triumph, galloped four furlongs in 48.80s in tandem with fellow Royal Ascot aspirants Hemp Hemp Hurray and Bound For Nowhere.
Ward was pleased with their performances, especially the daughter of deceased sire Scat Daddy.
“Last year, working into the Breeders’ Cup (Turf Sprint), I thought she was getting complacent, kinda easy-going, taking things in stride,” he said.
“For whatever reason, she went out to Del Mar and didn’t fire and maybe that was a telltale sign that she wasn’t relaxed and doing things on her own.
“Now she’s really aggressive like she has been in the past. That’s what you want to see going to where we’ve been a couple of times before.”
Bound for Nowhere, a four-year-old son of The Factor owned by the trainer, also is being aimed at the King’s Stand. The colt was fourth in last year’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot behind Caravaggio, Harry Angel and Blue Point.
Lady Aurelia is a best-priced 7-2 behind Charlie Hills’s Battaash for the opening race of the five-day meeting, while Bound For Nowhere is 25-1. Other international raiders who could compete include Australia’s Redkirk Warrior (12-1) and Merchant Navy (14-1), who is now with Aidan O’Brien.
“We wanted to give him a cruising work today – nothing real serious until probably next week when we tighten him down a little bit,” Ward said of Bound For Nowhere, who won an allowance race on is seasonal return.
“He’s doing everything great. (Hall of Fame jockey) Gary Stevens worked him last week and loved the way he went. This week was more of a maintenance breeze. He came through with just what I wanted him to do.”
Hemp Hemp Hurray, a three-year-old colt by Artie Schiller who is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, will travel to run in either the Jersey Stakes or the Commonwealth Cup.
Three juveniles who also worked on Tuesday and who all won their career debuts are also set to cross the Atlantic.
Chelsea Cloisters, owned by Hat Creek Racing, is on course for the Queen Mary, Shang Shang Shang will take in the Norfolk Stakes and Stillwater Cove is being aimed at the Albany Stakes.
Working together, Chelsea Cloisters and Stillwater Cove covered four furlongs in 49 seconds. Shang Shang Shang had the same time for her work in company with two other Ward horses.
Ward still is still to add to his Royal Ascot raiding party.
“I’m very appreciative of Keeneland for letting me (work young horses on the turf course) to see which ones do and don’t like the grass,” he said.
“Even though they win convincingly on dirt, they (sometimes) don’t translate that to grass.”
Ward said his contingent would continue to work at Keeneland every Tuesday, weather permitting. They are scheduled to leave Indianapolis on June 4 in preparation for their trip to Newmarket.