05/19/2009 11:00PM

Ward preps for Royal Ascot at River


Native Ruler may return from an injury in the Iowa Sprint on June 27.P

Plans are being finalized for trainer Wesley Ward to bring five 2-year-olds to River Downs for a public workout on the turf course between races Sunday. The horses are the five Ward plans to to race at Royal Ascot in England.

"I had them on the turf course at Keeneland last week," Ward said, "but River has a beautiful turf course and I think it may be more like the European courses. I want to make sure they take to it okay before shipping them all the way over there."

Ward won the first 2-year-old race of the River Downs meet for colts and geldings on Tuesday with DP the Facilitator, who scored by 3 3/4 lengths. A son of Consolidator, DP the Facilitator was only the second horse Ward has ever run at River Downs.

Also on Tuesday's card, the Ward-trained Friendly Inn finished fourth in a maiden turf race .

Ward, 41, said he plans on running more horses at River Downs.

"I had sort of a project horse that I brought up last year and he got beat by a nose," Ward said. "I was so surprised at what a nice place River Downs is. I thought it would be like some of the tracks I grew up at, but it is like a miniature Belmont."

Ward gave up a riding career 20 years ago and at the time thought about going to school to become a steward.

"When I quit riding I took two months off and realized there was more to life than being a jockey," he said. "I was able to eat and see how real people lived. I also noticed that there was more to being a steward than what I saw as a jockey. They have to deal with everybody's problems, they have so much paperwork and responsibilities and judgments. I have a great respect for them, but I knew it was not something I wanted to do."

Ward then began training with his dad, but found he had much to learn in that end of the business too.

"It took a lot of years of losing to figure out how to win," Ward said.

He found his niche as an exceptional trainer of 2-year-olds when he began training in Southern California.

"I found that I could get yearlings for $5,000 to $10,000 and put a lot of time in getting them ready and have them more prepared than anybody else. Then if I could get them to win a $40,000 to $50,000 maiden purse, I would sell them or have them claimed from me."