May 25, 2024

Lady Aurelia Royal Ascot bound after Giant’s Causeway romp

Lady Aurelia figures to be a solid favorite in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on November 4 (Coady Photography)

Lady Aurelia had no significant trouble beating her elders Saturday in the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland. Now the star three-year-old filly is expected to take a swing at a huge prize against older males on Day 1 of the Royal Ascot meet in June, the five-furlong King’s Stand (G1).

An even-money favorite against 10 older fillies and mares in the 5 1/2-furlong Giant’s Causeway, Lady Aurelia tracked in fifth behind pacesetting stablemate Ruby Motion, seized control in upper stretch, and cruised to a 2 1/2-length win under John Velazquez. Owned by Stonestreet Stables, George Bolton, and Peter Leidel, the Wesley Ward trainee covered the trip in 1:02.40 on firm ground and paid $4. Ruby Notion was edged by 51-1 longshot Nobody’s Fault for the place.

“She’s a wonderful filly. Has a big future – excited to get back over to England to Ascot. She’ll train right here at Keeneland until we go,” Ward said.

“Lot of credit goes out to (jockey) Julio Garcia, who gets on her and works her every day. Instead of shooting to the front, he gets her to relax. He sits back with her and every time she works, she gets more and more relaxed. I think that’s going to be a big key to where we want to go.”

Winner of a maiden special weight going 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland last April, Lady Aurelia romped by seven lengths in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot in June, then landed the Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville in August. However, she was only third as the odds-on choice in the Cheveley Park (G1) at Newmarket in her juvenile finale in September.

By Scat Daddy and out of the Grade 2-winning Forest Wildcat mare D’ Wildcat Speed, Lady Aurelia has now earned $429,668.

“(Our) ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup (Turf Sprint [G1]). That will be five-eighths on the turf (at) Del Mar. Should suit her perfect,” Ward said

In the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3), Watershed improved his record to two-for-two over the Keeneland main track with a 2 3/4-length victory over defending titlist Eagle with Paco Lopez in the saddle. The Godolphin homebred son of Bernardini, who won an allowance here in the fall of 2015, placed last season in Grade 3s in Dubai and at Monmouth Park, but was registering his first stakes win in the Ben Ali for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

The 5-1 fourth choice in a field of eight, Watershed rallied from fifth to win in a time of 1:50.92 over the fast main track. He paid $12.20. Eagle nosed out Bird Song for the place, with Blofeld a neck back in fourth.

“We tried him on the turf, and last time he ran well (beaten two lengths in the Mac Diarmida [G2]), but we thought he was better on dirt. We’re happy everything worked out today,” McLaughlin said.

The Kentucky-bred Watershed is out of the stakes-winning Thousand Islands, by Dubai Millennium, and is a half-brother to the Grade 1-placed Footbridge.