As his late sire Scat Daddy is in the headlines with four chances in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1), led by Justify and Mendelssohn, No Nay Never opened his account as a freshman sire Thursday at Belmont Park. Fittingly, the two-year-old filly who did the honors, Mae Never No, is an Ice Wine Stable homebred trained by Wesley Ward.
But unlike her sire, an odds-on debut winner over Keeneland’s old Polytrack, Mae Never No went off as the 7-1 less fancied Ward runner in the $96,500 dirt maiden. Stablemate Abyssinian was all the rage at 4-5, and Hat Creek Racing’s daughter of well-regarded freshman Cairo Prince scampered to the early lead.
Mae Never No, patiently handled by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, was four lengths back in fourth through the opening quarter in :22.81. Gaining on the far turn, she challenged the favorite in the stretch and drew 1 1/4 lengths clear in a final time of :58.65 for five furlongs. The Ward pair dominated, with Abyssinian nine lengths ahead of third-placer Three Birds.
Bred in Ireland, Mae Never No is the offspring of two prominent Ward juveniles. She is the first foal from the Broken Vow mare Sweet Shirley Mae, also an Ice Wine colorbearer, who finished second in the 2012 Spinaway S. (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Sweet Shirley Mae just sold in foal to Giant’s Causeway for $225,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November to Breeze Easy.
No Nay Never was a star of the 2013 season in Europe. After he blitzed the five-furlong Norfolk S. (G2) in a juvenile course record :58.80 at Royal Ascot, the Coolmore partners of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith bought into the exciting colt. No Nay Never then captured the Prix Morny (G1) over next-out Group 1 winners Vorda and Rizeena, a performance that ranked him as France’s highweight two-year-old colt.
Not seen again until early 2014, No Nay Never resurfaced in the Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park and finished second in his lone dirt start. He was spelled for seven months and regained the winning thread back on turf in Keeneland’s Woodford (G2). That set him up for a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, where he appeared to have the victory in grasp only to get mugged by Bobby’s Kitten.
No Nay Never retired with a mark of 6-4-2-0, $678,819. His dam, the winning Elusive Quality mare Cat’s Eye Witness, is a half-sister to Grade 3 victor Cat’s Career. This is the further family of Grade/Group 2 scorers Winning Pact, Half a Year, and Event of the Year, as well as Grade 1-winning juveniles Tamarando and So Many Ways, who ironically beat Sweet Shirley Mae in the aforementioned Spinaway.
Standing at Coolmore Ireland for €25,000, No Nay Never has already had two runners place at home for Aidan O’Brien, including The Irish Rover, who was beaten all of a half-length when fourth at Ascot May 2.