Judy the Beauty, Madison Stakes, Keeneland, April 12th 2014; Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, Santa Anita, November 1st 2014
Trained by Wesley Ward, Sire: Ghostzapper. Dam: Holy Blitz by Holy Bull
Success at the top level of racing as a jockey or trainer or owner is difficult enough. Wesley Ward has done all three in his remarkable, on-going career. And he’s only 46 years old.
The son of Washington trainer Dennis Ward and the grandson of New York outrider Jim Daley, Ward won the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey in 1984 after winning 335 races, more than $5 million in earnings and riding titles at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and The Meadowlands. Weight problems impacted his riding career in North America, so he rode in Italy, Singapore and Malaysia before retiring in 1989 to begin his second career as a trainer.
After working as his dad’s assistant, he went on his own in 1991. His first stakes and graded stakes winner was Unfinished Symph, who captured the 1994 Grade 3 Will Rogers Handicap at Hollywood Park. Unfinished Symph subsequently finished third that year in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Three other horses Ward trained, Cannonball in both the 2007 Juvenile Turf and 2009 Turf Sprint, Holdin Bullets in the 2011 Juvenile Sprint and Sweet Shirley Mae in the 2012 Juvenile Sprint, also finished third. Judy the Beauty, whom he owns, almost got the job done last year, finishing second by a half-length to Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
By then, Ward had made history. Twice. In 2009, on his first trip to England, he became the first American trainer to win at Royal Ascot. He did that twice with Strike the Tiger, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes, and with Group 2 Queens Mary Stakes winner Jealous Again. Ward, who bred Strike the Tiger, owned both horses in partnership. Two years later, Ward became the first American trainer to win at Longchamp when Tiz Terrific broke her maiden there. Ward saddled three more winners in France, another one at Longchamp with Italo and two at Chantilly with Judy the Beauty and Everyday Dave.
Still sensitive to the difficulties a young jockey can face, Ward has given mounts to many inexperienced riders including Ariel Smith in 1999 and Christian Santiago Reyes in 2009, helping each win the Eclipse Award for apprentice rider.
Ward, who owns a broodmare farm in Ocala, and his wife Kimberly have three children, Riley, Jack and Denae.