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Ward and Welker

Posted by on 6/23/2015 10:57:07 PM

Very few American horse trainers have embraced the idea of running across the pond in Europe but Wesley Ward is not one of them and he was rewarded when his Undrafted, owned by former Denver Broncos and New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, captured the Diamond Jubilee Stakes last Saturday at Royal Ascot.

He exploded down the lane to collar co-favorite Brazen Beau by a half-length. The veteran rang the bell at 14-1 as this was Ward’s first Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot. He won a race there in 2009.

The legend Frankie Dettori was up for the victory and although Welker did not make the trip, he was pretty happy, Welker: “I can’t believe I didn’t make the trip over, I can’t believe we won.”

And it all goes back to what’s important in like as Ward’s daughter was hospitalized and the connections almost missed the race.

Undrafted, named because Welker entered the NFL undrafted, was making his second start in England. He was 4th last year in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

He was coming off a May 1 second in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes at Churchill when Power Alert set a course record.

Undrafted was a $50,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sales.

This was not Ward’s first trip to the rodeo but he was very excited, Ward: “This is the biggest race I’ve ever won, including the Breeders’ Cup and everything. He’s been training great, he really has, and Frankie just has the magic touch. He’s a magical guy, a real go-getter as we’d say. We had a rough night, my daughter got a touch of Bell’s palsy but we got fixed up with a great doctor.”

Ward won the Eclipse Award as an apprentice in 1984 and he learned his trade from his father Dennis, who still trains around the country.

In 2014 Ward won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with Hootenanny and the BC Filly and Mare Sprint with Judy the Beauty.

On a regular basis, Ward offers bettors some solid opportunities. Ward is 20% the last 5 years with debuting juveniles and he is much better with debuters on dirt rather than on grass.

And he is 23% during that same time frame with second shooting debuters. When he adds blinkers for the first time with 2-year-olds, he pops at 21%.

When he drops a horse from a MSW to a maiden claimer, pay attention. He is 24% with that move with a median payoff of 5-2.

Ward can get them set to fire off a long layoff too. He is 40 for 164 or 24% the last 5 years with runners returning after a layoff of 180 days or more. He is 23% the last 5 years going sprint to route and even better the other way hitting at 26% going route to sprint.

And it pays to be patient when he claims a horse. He is 17% the first off the claim in the last 5 years, but 29% second off the claim during that same time frame at 4 for 14 and 4 ran second.

Ward has proved there are a lot of ways to skin a cat but he must be respected wherever his runners show up.

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