Trainer Wesley Ward, who has saddled 12 winners at Royal Ascot during his remarkable career, will be well represented at Gulfstream Park on May 13 when he sends out legendary former-jockey Steve Cauthen’s Holding the Line for a start in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Ocean Maid for a run in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies.
The Royal Palm Juvenile, a five-furlong turf stakes for 2-year-olds, and the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five-furlong turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies, will both provide their respective winners with an automatic berth into one of six stakes during the June 20-24 Royal Ascot meeting, as well as a $25,000 equine travel stipend for shipping from the U.S. to England. The FTBOA will also offer a $25,000 bonus, above and beyond purse money won, to a Florida-bred winner in addition to the winner’s share of the purse.
These races represent the first-ever U.S. Automatic Qualifiers for the Royal meeting, building top-class international participation at Royal Ascot, boosting global awareness and deeper fan engagement around important industry innovations like the World Pool.
Holding the Line, an Irish-bred son of Soldier’s Call, is prominent in a field of 10 entered for the inaugural running of the Royal Palm Juvenile. Ocean Mermaid, a daughter of Kingman, will face 11 other fillies entered for the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies. Holding the Line was purchased for $71,070 at the 2022 Tattersalls October yearling sale by Cauthen, ‘The Kid’ who rode Affirmed for a sweep of the 1977 Triple Crown before enjoying a highly successful career riding in Europe.
“He’s a horse purchased over in England. Steve picked him out with the hopes he himself can get back to Royal Ascot. They had him there last year commentating,” Ward said.
Holding the Line is unraced due to the lack of turf opportunities for 2-year-olds at Keeneland this spring. “There was only one race, and every trainer was allowed only one horse in the race if it oversubscribed. That entrant was Fandom,” Ward said.
Ward saddled Stonestreet Stables’ Fandom for a 6 ¾-length triumph on turf April 27 to earn his way to Royal Ascot, and Holding the Line is well prepared for his career debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile. “He’s a beautiful colt. He improved in his workouts at Palm Meadows when he was down in Florida on the grass. He’s bred top and bottom for the turf, so I’m anxious to get him on there,” said Ward by phone from his Keeneland base.
Holding the Line continued his training at Keeneland before shipping to Payson Park, where he breezed three furlongs in 37 seconds Saturday morning. Hall of Famer John Velazquez has been named to ride Holding the Line, who figures to face a stern test in his debut.
Trainer George Weaver entered Dew Sweepers LLC’s Blast Furnace in the Royal Palm Juvenile, as well as unraced No Nay Mets, who was purchased for $335,000 at the OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale. Blast Furnace chased the Ward-trained Fandom at Keeneland in the April; 27 five-furlong maiden special weight race on turf before settling for second, No Nay Mets is a son of No Nay Never, whom Ward saddled for a victory in the 2013 Norfolk at Royal Ascot. Edwin Gonzalez has been named on Blast Furnace, while Luca Panici has the call on Irish-bred No Nay Mets.
Arindel’s revered breed-to-race farm has Reaper, an impressive 5 ¾-length winner over Gulfstream’s main track April 21, entered to make his turf debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile. Emisael Jaramillo was given the call aboard the homebred son of Brethren. Arindel will also be represented by Tiberian Sun, an unraced homebred son of Brethren. Reaper and Tiberian Sun are two of four Florida-bred entrants eligible for the FTBOA bonus. Jacks or Better Farm Inc.’s Northshore Drive, who finished third behind Reaper, and Iron Horse Racing Stable LLC and Harlow Stables LLC’s Mattingly, an unraced son of Bucchero, are also Florida-bred. Xaverius Racing Corp.’s Praiseworthy, Gerald James and Hall Performance LLC’s Shotgun Pro, and EAC Racing Stable LLC’s Zaino, round out the field.
Ward had been waiting patiently for Ocean Mermaid to make her debut before entering the Great Britain-bred filly in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies.
“She’s a turf filly. She was purchased at Tattersalls. Unfortunately, there has been only one turf race in America, that being a colt race. The filly race at Keeneland here was rained off the turf,” Ward said. “Looking for a race with this race in mind from the onset, we sent her down there and had a nice breeze at Payson at my barn there. She’s ready to go.”
Ocean Mermaid breezed on turf at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, before putting in four workouts at Keeneland. She breezed three-furlongs in 37.80 at Payson Park Saturday morning. The daughter of Kingman was bought by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables LLC for $252,546 at the Tattersalls October yearling sale.
“She was purchased to go to Royal Ascot. That was the whole reason for the purchase, as Barbara does each and every year. Bloodstock agent Ben McElroy goes over every year and picks out a few horses that look like Royal Ascot candidates,” Ward said. Velazquez has the call on Ocean Mermaid.
Dew Sweepers LLC’s Crimson Advocate goes into the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies off a promising debut at Keeneland April 26. The George Weaver-trained daughter of Nyquist raced wide and in traffic before finishing third in a five-furlong maiden special weight race on dirt. Edwin Gonzalez has the call on Crimson Advocate.
Christian Cruz’s She Has Class is the long entrant to have visited the winner’s circle. The Javier Gonzalez-trained daughter of Khozan closed from off the pace to capture her debut in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight race on Gulfstream’s main track April 10. She Has Class is one of four Florida-bred fillies eligible for the FTBOA bonus.
Gary Barber and D. J. Stable LLC’s The Myth, an unraced daughter of The Factor trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse; Robin Kaiser’s Bucchera, an unraced daughter of Bucchero trained by Laura Cazares; and Cornejo Racing LLC’s Girvin Girl, an unraced daughter of Girvin trained by Carlos David; are the other Florida-bred entrants.
D. J. Stables LLC is also represented in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies by Fumblerooski, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Liam’s Map trained by Joe Orseno. Double D. Racing’s Turf Rocket, a daughter of More Than Ready, is scheduled to debut for trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer, who enjoyed international success this season after saddling Sibelius for a victory in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Arindel’s Kiss, Jeffrey Crooks’ My Sweetheart Dani and Starry Night Racing’s Scootaloo round out the field.
Powered by WPeMatico