10/23/2012 12:27PM

Keeneland: Ward looks set to add to win total at meet

Barbara D. Livingston
Gentlemans Code has won four of his last five starts heading into Thursday's allowance feature at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – If it’s a racing day at Keeneland, then it must be another potentially big day for an ex-jockey named Wesley Ward. With major contenders such as New Believer and Gentlemans Code running Thursday, Ward could add to what already has been a productive fall meet.

Last Saturday, Ward sent out Gypsy Robin to capture the Grade 2 Raven Run and become the first horse to sweep the two major Keeneland sprints for 3-year-old fillies, having already won the Grade 2 Beaumont in the spring.

“We’ve got her in the Fasig-Tipton sale, so what she brings will determine whether we keep her or not,” Ward explained Tuesday. “If we keep her, we’ll point her to the La Brea,” a Grade 1 race at Santa Anita in December.

Meanwhile, Ward will saddle New Believer in the second race Thursday, a $25,000 starter allowance at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet. New Believer will be attempting to extend his remarkable record of 8 for 9 over the local Polytrack surface. The 7-year-old gelding, 1 for 16 at all other tracks, was a rallying winner here Oct. 14.

“The conditions of the race fit him perfectly,” Ward said. “He seems to only run at Keeneland, so we’re trying to take every advantage of having him here. After this, I’ll probably turn him out on my farm in Ocala and wait to come back here in the spring, like I have the last couple years.”

Two races later, Ward figures to have the horse to beat in Gentlemans Code in the nominal Thursday feature, a $56,000 allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. The somewhat unusual race conditions are for 3-year-olds that have never won a graded stakes.

Gentlemans Code, a Florida-bred gelding, won a restricted stakes at Penn National in his most recent start, marking his fourth win from his last five races. He has steadily risen in the class ranks in recent months, having won a nonwinners-of-two claiming race here in the spring. He was assigned the outside post in a field of seven.

“He’s got a big heart and he’s fast, and I think he’s going to turn into a very good sprinter,” Ward said. “With the outside post, I think he should run very, very well in that spot Thursday.”

Other contenders in the Thursday feature include Icon Ike (post 4, Rosie Napravnik), who exits a rugged edition of the Grade 3 Woodford, and Pure Tactics (post 6, Shaun Bridgmohan), a three-time winner from five lifetime starts, all for veteran Morris Nicks.

Julio Garcia will have the mount on both horses Thursday for Ward, who entered the final four-day stretch of the 17-day fall meet in third place in the trainer standings with six wins, trailing Mike Maker (nine) and Todd Pletcher (seven).

One other allowance (race 8) is part of the nine-race Thursday card, which starts at the usual 1:05 p.m. Eastern. It’s a $52,000 first-level turf mile with an overflow, well-matched field. Internalaccounting and Master Achievement figure among the lukewarm choices.

Saturday is closing day at Keeneland, with Churchill Downs starting its 21-day fall meet the following day.