Wesley Ward is renowned for his handling of speedy juveniles and he’ll see three of his latest crop square off in the fifth running of the $85,000 Skidmore over five-and-a-half furlongs on the Mellon turf at Saratoga this Friday.
Ward is content to allow Sunny Isle Beach, Fauci and Golden Pal to take each other either on, with Baytown Bear (Paul McEntee), Kentucky Knight (Amira Chichakly) and Sky’s Not Falling (Michael Trombetta) making up a sextet of contenders.
The Skidmore is a race that has, surprisingly, managed to allude Ward since it was introduced in 2016. His mob-handed approach to this renewal may alter that stat.
Fauci landed a one-length maiden score at Keeneland early last month on the turf. Ward suggests the son of Malibu Moon acts on either turf or the dirt.
“He can do both,” Ward said. “I see more ability on grass than dirt right now. I was impressed with how he ran on the soft turf at Keeneland.
“I’ve seen in the past where a horse goes 58 [seconds] and change and then backs out. For him to take that heat up front and still go on with it was nice to see. He has heart and he has will.”
Out of Tashzara, who is a half-sister to Group 1-winner Lancaster Bomber as well as multiple Group 1-winning star Excelebration, Fauci was purchased for $175,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He’s berthed in stall five and will have Tyler Gaffalione on board in the Skidmore.
Golden Pal meanwhile is waiting for a first win after runner-up finishes so far, the most recent when just inched out behind impressive winner The Lir Jet in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
A son of Uncle Mo, he’s out of 11-time stakes winner Lady Shipman and Ward suggests he has the ability to be ‘very, very special’ give his precocious speed.
“He is a very, very special colt. He is really an amazing horse and if he keeps moving on up, I think he could really be something,” Ward said. “He’s done everything right, and he’s just extremely, extremely gifted.”
“He’s pure speed. He takes after the mare in that regard. He’s got a real great personality. He’s like the high school quarterback, just thinks he’s a real cat daddy.”
Sunny Isle Beach made a winning start to her career at Churchill Downs in June despite being forced to run very wide on the home turn in going around rivals. Javier Castellano is set to take the ride on her and Ward suggests she may learn from the experience at Saratoga.
“She’s doing well, she’s done everything right. The race might be a little tough for her, but we’re giving it a shot,” Ward added.