04/07/2017 12:50PM

Ward does his thing on opening day


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Aside from death and taxes, there aren’t many certainties in life – unless you count Wesley Ward winning with 2-year-olds every spring at Keeneland.

Ward began the 15-day meet by sending out Fairyland to win the meet opener Friday, a 4 1/2-furlong baby race.

“We’re really excited about this filly,” said Ward, who trains Fairyland, a daughter of Scat Daddy, for the Coolmore partnership. “She’s going to be a tiger at Royal Ascot” in June.

Fairyland returned $4.80 as the favorite in a field of 11 after finishing in 52.68 seconds under 54-year-old jockey Julio Garcia.

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Ward entered the meet with a record of 51 for 189 in 2-year-old races at Keeneland, a category that includes longer races during fall meets. He will try to continue his domination of the 2-year-old ranks by running an uncoupled entry in each of the next such scheduled races on Sunday and Wednesday.

In the meantime, the spring meet was supposed to unfold with far better weather than what met racegoers Friday – high temperatures in the low 50s made even more uncomfortable by a biting upstretch wind. Hats and gloves abounded throughout the shaded grandstand as patrons tried to stay warm, although Kelsey Hinton was attired in a sleeveless dress when standing in the sun near the paddock.

“I’ve got a sweater right here,” said Hinton, a 24-year-old Kentucky native now living in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

All in all, conditions were tolerable. The main track was fast, and the turf course seemed destined for an upgrade from good to firm as the afternoon wore on. The Grade 3 Transylvania, for 3-year-olds on turf, was to be run later in the day as the highlight of the 10-race card.

Aside from tweaks to the graphics for its in-house simulcast signal, the scene was pretty familiar as another meet got under way at this picturesque 81-year-old track, with Steve Buttleman blowing the bugle, Robert Alexander starting the races, Kurt Becker announcing them, and a full TVG crew led by Todd T. Schrupp providing coverage for fans at home.