July 14, 2024

Ward juveniles look to notch Royal Ascot berths at Gulfstream

Royal Ascot scenic (c) Horsephotos.com/Frank Sorge

Retired Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen and trainer Wesley Ward both have vast experience reaching the Royal Ascot winner’s circle, just not together. On Saturday, the pair will team up as owner and trainer with first-time starter Holding the Line in the inaugural $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile at Gulfstream Park.

The winners of both the Royal Palm Juvenile and the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, also over five furlongs on the turf Saturday, will earn berths to one of the six two-year-old stakes at the five-day Royal Ascot meet (June 20-24), as well as a $25,000 travel stipend.

Cauthen rode 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed before embarking on a successful riding career in England. He won the riding title at Royal Ascot four times (1985, 1987, 1990-91) when the meeting was held over four days.

Cauthen purchased Holding the Line for approximately $71,000 last October at the Tattersalls October yearling sale. By Soldier’s Call, who won the 2018 Windsor Castle S. at Royal Ascot, Holding the Line is out of the Tiger Hill mare Street Kitty. She has already produced Group 2 winner Sir Busker, who placed in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot.

“He’s a beautiful colt,” said Ward, who has won 12 races at Royal Ascot since 2009, eight of them with two-year-olds. “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.”

Holding the Line, who will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, is one of seven first-time starters in the Royal Palm Juvenile. The only non-maiden in the field is Reaper, who won on debut by 5 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream on April 21 going 4 1/2 furlongs on the dirt.

Ward has another debut runner, Ocean Mermaid, entered in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies. She is a daughter of Kingman owned by Stonestreet Stable.