10/29/2017 3:32PM

Ward's Breeders' Cup trio stretches legs

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Lady Aurelia wins the Giant's Causeway Stakes at Keeneland in April.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Wesley Ward ran six horses in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. Two won, three finished second, and the other third. It doesn’t really get much better than that, but Ward is exuding confidence in the three horses he plans to start in Breeders’ Cup races Friday and Saturday.

“All my horses are all training up to the race good. I think it’s as strong a contingent as I’ve brought,” Ward said Sunday morning after his intended Breeders’ Cup runners had worked on turf.

Lady Aurelia, the star of the Ward show, went a half-mile in company with the 3-year-old Master Merion in 49.23 seconds on the watch of Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch. Ward’s 2-year-old BC starters, the filly Ultima D and the colt Hemp Hemp Hurray, worked a half in company a few minutes later, with Ultima D going in 48.18 and Hemp Hemp Hurray in 47.98.

Lady Aurelia is one of the stars of the Breeders’ Cup despite never having started in a Breeders’ Cup race and having run only twice in the U.S. Five of Lady Aurelia’s races have come overseas, and she has made her reputation by winning three of those starts, with a close second and a third in her two European losses. This past June, Lady Aurelia won the Group 1 King’s Stand stakes by more than three lengths during the Royal Ascot meet.

“I tell you, we’re ready to go,” said Ward. “I’m very confident, but it’s a big field, and anything can happen in a big field. We pointed to this race all year, we worked from this race backward. She’s got no issues or problems that we’re dealing with.”

Lady Aurelia worked inside Master Merion on Sunday and has occupied a similar position in recent workouts at her Keeneland base.

“She’s used to running straight overseas,” Ward said. “When she won at Keeneland, Johnny [Velazquez] came outside. It’s such a big field, I don’t know if she’s going to have to come through. We’ve been working her on the inside in case that happens. I already know she can swing out, but in case she comes through, I know she can shoot through on them. And he’s kind of a big old tiger too, that Master Merion.”

Hemp Hemp Hurray, second last out in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine, started his work a length or so behind Ultima D, the winner of the Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs last out, and caught her at the wire. Ultima D galloped out well in front of Hemp Hemp Hurray, but Ward said that was because Hemp Hemp Hurray’s rider, Julio Garcia, “doesn’t let them gallop out.”

“Hemp Hemp Hurray, that was a big work for him today,” Ward said. “I think it’s going to be a big advantage for both my 2-year-olds because they can to get out, get over, and secure good position before the first turn, whether they’re in front or close to it. If you get in traffic trouble here – which I have – you’re dead.”

:: BC Workouts: Watch Mike Welsch's video updates from Del Mar