Like The King Has Derby Tune-Up At Keeneland For Red-Hot Ward

On Saturday morning at Keeneland racecourse in Lexington, Ky., M Racing Group’s Like the King continued his preparation for a start in the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve by working six furlongs in company in 1:12.80 over a fast main track. (Click here for a video of the work.)

With Julio Garcia aboard, Like the King (by Palace Malice) started three lengths in back of 2020 Canadian champion female sprinter Artie’s Princess and drew even at the sixteenth pole.

At the conclusion of the work, trainer Wesley Ward and Gary Stevens, agent for Drayden Van Dyke, who will have the Derby mount, exchanged fist bumps with enthusiasm.

“That was a good work and the horse he worked with is a champion,” Ward said. “He’ll work again next Saturday or Sunday.”

Winner of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in his most recent start, Like the King  worked six furlongs on the turf in 1:16 in company at Keeneland on April 10.

Like the King is expected to van to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday, April 27, in advance of the May 1 Derby.

Meanwhile,  Ward’s Spring Meet juggernaut continued Friday when the Keeneland-based trainer picked up his 12th victory of the season with Douglas Scharbauer’s homebred Red Ghost in the seventh race. Ward has a three-win margin over Brad Cox and a four-win advantage on Todd Pletcher after 10 days of the 15-day meet, which concludes April 23.

Ward has saddled a winner on seven of the nine racing days in which he has had a starter. He won both 2-year-old races Thursday to give him 21 victories in juvenile races here dating back to the 2018 Spring Meet.

Ward, who has entrants in four races Saturday afternoon, is on the verge of a seventh meet title that would vault him into a tie for third with Henry Forrest all time. Now with 193 career victories, he ranks seventh all time at Keeneland.

Ward has won four 2021 Spring Meet stakes: Madison (G1) with Kimari, Shakertown (G2) with Bound for Nowhere, Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select with Twenty Cart and Palisades Turf Sprint with Chasing Artie. The total equals the record for most Spring Meet stakes victories shared by Ben Jones (1948), Todd Pletcher (2011) and Chad Brown (2018).

With 19 career stakes wins at Keeneland, Ward is tied with Hall of Famers Carl Nafzger and Woody Stephens on 13th place on the list of the track’s leading trainers by stakes wins.

The post Like The King Has Derby Tune-Up At Keeneland For Red-Hot Ward appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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