Stonestreet Stables and Peter Leidel's European champion Lady Aurelia, based at Keeneland with trainer Wesley Ward, worked 4 furlongs on a firm turf course in :48.80 Tuesday in preparation for her third annual appearance in June at Royal Ascot in England, where she won the 2016 Queen Mary (G2) and 2017 King's Stand (G1).
Lady Aurelia, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly, is slated to defend her title in the 5-furlong King's Stand on June 19, opening day of the meeting.
Today's work was the second for Lady Aurelia since she opened her 2018 campaign April 14 in Keeneland's Giant's Causeway (L) and finished second, 1½ lengths behind Triple Chelsea.
With exercise rider Julio Garcia aboard, Lady Aurelia was on the inside of stakes winner Hemp Hemp Hurray with Bound for Nowhere, winner of Keeneland's Shakertown (G2) on April 7, breaking off a length behind.
Keeneland clockers caught Hemp Hemp Hurray in :49 and Bound for Nowhere in :49.20.
Ward was pleased with their performances, especially Lady Aurelia's.
“Last year, working into the Breeders' Cup (Turf Sprint-G1), 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.”
Last year, Lady Aurelia scored a 3-length victory in the King's Stand after opening her season with a win in the Giant's Causeway. She then was nosed out of a win in the Aug. 25 Coolmore Nunthorpe (G1) at York by Marsha (IRE). Lady Aurelia was unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar. In 2016, she won the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in only her second career start.
Bound for Nowhere, a 4-year-old son of The Factor owned by Ward, also is being aimed at the King's Stand. The colt was fourth in last year's Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot.
“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. “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.”
Bound for Nowhere competed in France last year after Royal Ascot, running unplaced in the LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) at Deauville in August. He opened his 2018 season with a win in a March 3 allowance at Turfway.
Hemp Hemp Hurray, a 3-year-old colt by Artie Schiller who races for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is on tap to travel to Royal Ascot for the June 20 Jersey (G3) or June 22Commonwealth Cup.
Ward, who won 13 races during Keeneland's 2018 Spring Meet to tie Brad Cox as the season's co-leading trainer, said a trio of 2-year-olds who won their career debuts during the Spring Meet and worked at Keeneland Tuesday also are scheduled to make their next starts at Royal Ascot.
They are Hat Creek Racing's Chelsea Cloisters (June 20 Queen Mary-G2); Breeze Easy's Shang Shang Shang (June 21 Norfolk-G2); and Marcus Stables' Stillwater Cove (June 22 Albany-G3).
Working together, Chelsea Cloisters and Stillwater Cove covered 4 furlongs in :49. Shang Shang Shang had the same time for her work in company with two other Ward horses.
Ward still is determining his additional Royal Ascot starters.
“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 June 4 for their overseas flight.
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