Lady Aurelia pleased trainer Wesley Ward with her work at Keeneland as she prepares for a crack at her third consecutive Royal Ascot victory.
The four-year-old Scat Daddy filly won the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes in 2016 and the Group One King's Stand Stakes last year, brilliantly, the same race in which she is getting ready for next month (June 19).
Sky Bet make her a 3/1 chance to follow up in this year's King's Stand.
On Tuesday she worked four furlongs on a firm turf course in 48.80 seconds, her second piece of work since she opened her 2018 campaign on April 14 in Keeneland’s Giant’s Causeway and finished second behind Triple Chelsea.
With exercise rider Julio Garcia aboard, Lady Aurelia was on the inside of stakes winner Hemp Hemp Hurray with Bound for Nowhere, winner of Keeneland’s Shakertown (G2) on April 7, breaking off a length behind.
Keeneland clockers caught Hemp Hemp Hurray in 49 seconds and Bound for Nowhere in 49.20.
Ward was pleased with their performances, especially Lady Aurelia’s.
"Last year, working into the Breeders’ Cup (Turf Sprint), I thought she was getting complacent, kinda easy-going, taking things in stride," he said. "For whatever reason, she went out to Del Mar and didn’t fire and maybe that was a telltale sign that she wasn’t relaxed and doing things on her own.
"Now she’s really aggressive like she has been in the past. That’s what you want to see going to where we’ve been a couple of times before."
Last year, Lady Aurelia scored a three-length victory in the King’s Stand after opening her season with a win in the Giant’s Causeway. She was then nosed out of a win in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York by Marsha before finishing unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar.
Bound for Nowhere, a four-year-old son of The Factor owned by Ward, is also being aimed at the King’s Stand. The colt was fourth in last year’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
"We wanted to give him a cruising work today – nothing real serious until probably next week when we tighten him down a little bit," Ward said. "He’s doing everything great. Gary Stevens worked him last week and loved the way he went. This week was more of a maintenance breeze. He came through with just what I wanted him to do."
Bound for Nowhere competed in France last year after Royal Ascot, running unplaced in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in August. He opened his 2018 season with a win in a March 3 allowance at Turfway.
Hemp Hemp Hurray, a three-year-old colt by Artie Schiller who races for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is on track to travel to Royal Ascot for the Jersey Stakes or Commonwealth Cup.
Ward, who won 13 races during Keeneland’s 2018 Spring Meet to tie Brad Cox as the season’s co-leading trainer, said a trio of two-year-olds who won their career debuts during the Spring Meet and worked at Keeneland Tuesday also are scheduled to make their next starts at Royal Ascot.
They are Hat Creek Racing’s Chelsea Cloisters (Queen Mary); Breeze Easy’s Shang Shang Shang (Norfolk); and Marcus Stables’ Stillwater Cove (Albany).
Working together, Chelsea Cloisters and Stillwater Cove covered four furlongs in 49 seconds. Shang Shang Shang had the same time for her work in company with two other Ward horses.
Ward still is determining his additional Royal Ascot starters.
"I’m very appreciative of Keeneland for letting me (work young horses on the turf course) to see which ones do and don’t like the grass,” he said. “Even though they win convincingly on dirt, they (sometimes) don’t translate that to grass."
Ward said his contingent would continue to work at Keeneland every Tuesday, weather permitting. They are scheduled to leave Indianapolis on June 4 for their overseas flight.