08/07/2012 1:36PM

Saratoga: Ward still chasing elusive first Grade 1 victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Emma's Encore (left) beats Judy the Beauty to the wire in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y – Lost in all the emotion of trainer Allen Jerkens’s first Grade 1 win in five years following Emma’s Encore’s victory in Saturday’s Prioress Stakes was the huge effort turned in by runner-up Judy the Beauty. Emma’s Encore ran down Judy the Beauty in the final strides of the Prioress to post a nose decision, frustrating Wesley Ward in another agonizingly close but futile attempt to win the first Grade 1 race of his training career.

“It wasn’t a tough beat, it was a horrible beat,” Ward said. “I’ve been second in Grade 1 races all over the world – Ascot, Dubai. I’m kind of getting used to it.”

Perhaps Ward’s most noteworthy near-miss in a Grade 1 race came in the 2010 Florida Derby, when his Pleasant Prince was beaten inches by Ice Box. Judy the Beauty also finished second here last summer behind Grace Hall in the Grade 1 Spinaway.

“She ran great and came out of the race excellent,” Ward said of Judy the Beauty. “The Test comes back a little quick, and I have another one for the race anyway, Gypsy Robin. We’ll just look a little further down the road and try to space her out a lot.”

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez reported that Agave Kiss, who finished third as the odds-on favorite in the Prioress, also will pass the Test. Agave Kiss has now lost two races in a row after opening her career with six consecutive victories.

[Complete coverage of racing at Saratoga: News, PPs, and video]

“I was happy with the way she ran,” Rodriguez said. “You always want to win those kind of races, but she ran a very good race. We’re going to freshen her up and maybe run her with the New York-breds in the Showcase at Belmont.”

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said he was forced to scratch Jamaican Smoke from the Prioress due to a “minor” issue that will keep her sidelined for the remainder of the meet.

Jamaican Smoke has won two of her last three starts and was second behind Emma’s Encore in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 7.

“It was disappointing for everybody that we couldn’t run her Saturday, but we had no choice,” Kenneally said. “It’s nothing major, but she’s going to need a little quiet time. We’ll pick another spot out for her in the fall.”

steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
MORE MORE crybaby comments.. Can't you guys use this site to learn. Maybe if you won a few races, you would have something nice to say..... Yeah. Ward is now a BAD GUY because he a great trainer of 2 yo's. and wins races. Do you jerks complain when you cash tickets on all those firsters? I certainly don't! Yeah - you push them early and they race less. Maybe his owners want precocious, early winners horses for breeding. Is that Wards fault??
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Exactly. Its so easy to piece these trainers together. Folks are amazed at what he does with 2 year olds. Hes apparently not doing ETHICAL things with them, because they NEVER MAKE IT TO GRADE 1 RACES! He runs them into the ground early when other trainers are focused on poisoning 3 year olds and older horses. What you get..... 2 year olds that run the other babies off their feet and he gets praise for being so good, I use that term loosely. Where are all of Wards firt out winners from this past Keeneland meet? I would have thought ONE would have made it to Saratoga...... Food for Thought.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Anybody know why Saratoga fields are getting smaller and smaller. I dont care bout the week but weekend should have big fields. Ton of 8 horse crappers. I remember reading the article about the lady from NYRA who clearly stated larger fields sizes. Just like a politician to lie. Now we know why on track is lower. I wouldn't want to take the driver for some of these cards.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Nothing wrong with an 8-horse field.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Has anyone seen Paynter?
Charles Decker More than 1 year ago
Ward training method -- win everything in sight at Keeneland with 2 year olds, most are competitive for one-half of the 3 year old season, then, after he has destroyed them, they end up in a $5000-$10,000 claimer at Gulfstream or Churchill or they disappear all together.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You should feel honored to run second to Allen Jerkens, you little twit.
Bsb Jaws More than 1 year ago
Well now, Romans isn't a fat walrus ,but Ward is a lttle twit. LOL. You're funny cornholio.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Oh Cali-Boy, it's just you. I heard you were on your way outa here, you racist slug.
Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
Mr Jaws, thank you for going easy on me the other day, when you merely suggested my sobriquet implied I was a tad "Hefty".LOL Keep on keeping these people honest, somebody has to hold them accountable for their remarks.
Luis E Astacio More than 1 year ago
Keep trying Wesley keep trying.Remenber what Mr.Zayat when through in last two or three years in the triple crown races
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
and he still hasn't won one, what's the point? If you analogy, it would be Todd Pletcher's inability to win a Grade 1 in NY just a few years ago.