10/07/2013 11:50AM

Keeneland: Richies Party Girl has experience edge in Jessamine

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Wesley Ward had a sensational opening weekend at Keeneland and could continue his roll Wednesday with Richie's Party Girl.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Wesley Ward enjoyed a sensational opening weekend at Keeneland, and not just as a horse trainer.

Ward not only trains but also is listed as the sole owner of Judy the Beauty, the winner of the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes on Saturday, meaning the only thing Ward had to subtract from the $120,000 winner’s share was the standard 10 percent jockey’s commission to John Velazquez.

Moreover, the Grade 2 TCA carried a Win and You’re In bonus toward the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“I made out a lot better than as if I was just the trainer,” a grinning Ward said Sunday between races. “Pretty good work if you can get it.”

Ward will be looking for more of the same Wednesday – this time as a co-owner with Richard Ravin – when sending out Richies Party Girl in the final Win and You’re In race of the Keeneland fall meet, the 23rd running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Jessamine Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

The race gives the winner a fees-paid berth to the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on November 1.

Richies Party Girl is the only horse in the field of 10 with more than one win, a fact not lost on Ward.

“We wouldn’t be eligible for this if it was a one-other-than [allowance race],” Ward noted. “It’s not a bad spot to be in when you consider we could get our expenses to the Breeders’ Cup paid for her, too, if we’re lucky enough to win.”

Richies Party Girl, with Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride, will start from post 9 and is coming off a gritty nose victory over Runway Giant in a turf allowance at Churchill Downs. The speedy filly fought off several challenges before lasting in that Sept. 7 race.

Coincidentally, Runway Giant, with Brian Hernandez Jr. to ride, is drawn in post 10 for the Jessamine, while Velazquez will break on the other side of Richies Party Girl in post 8 aboard another chief threat, Candy Kitty, trained by Todd Pletcher for Starlight Racing.

Six of the other seven fillies in a contentious lineup come off maiden victories. Perhaps the most impressive of those was Zinzay (post 6, Joe Rocco Jr.), who was good enough to win at first asking when going long on the Saratoga turf.

As the eighth of nine races Wednesday, the Jessamine is the final race in the weekly handicapping contest that Keeneland is now cleverly calling its “WINS-day challenge.” The contest runs from races 3-8, with the first 200 participants receiving a free Daily Racing Form. Entry is $10, with $2,500 to the winner.

First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the Jessamine going at 4:49.