December 5, 2021

Golden Pal favored in Nunthorpe for Ward

Golden Pal wins the Quick Call Stakes (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Nunthorpe S. (G1) — Race 4 (10:35 a.m. ET)

Trainer Wesley Ward reckons Golden Pal as potentially the best horse he’s ever trained. On Friday, the three-year-old turf sprinter will attempt to join a growing list of Ward’s successful overseas raiders in the Nunthorpe S. (G1) at York, England’s premier five-furlong dash.

The Nunthorpe offers an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar in November. Golden Pal is a past star on the championship weekend, having won last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Keeneland.

That win is among three Golden Pal has achieved in five starts. Making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup in the July 15 Quick Call (G3) at Saratoga, Golden Pal delivered by three lengths.

The son of Uncle Mo and the Ward-trained turf sprint specialist Lady Shipman has already gotten a taste of English racing, having been edged by a neck last season in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot.

Ward is hoping to reverse some bad luck in previous runnings of the Nunthorpe. The fillies Acapulco and Lady Aurelia both lost narrowly in thie event in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

No three-year-old has won the Nunthorpe in a decade, but that seems likely to change as most of the primary contenders hail from this year’s classic crop. The French-based filly Suesa looms a major threat following a dominating performance in the King George (G2) at Goodwood, in which she rebounded from her first career loss in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Dragon Symbol, who was demoted from first to second in the Commonwealth Cup behind the Ward-trained Campanelle, was subsequently second in both the July Cup (G1) and King George. He’s never finished worse than second in eight starts and would be especially dangerous with cut in the ground.

Among the older participants, Que Amoro and Moss Gill both placed in the 2020 Nunthorpe behind the recently-retired two-time winner Battaash.