05/15/2011 3:06PM

Wesley Ward adds more horses to his European string

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Trainer Wesley Ward is expanding his European string to nine horses this week, a group that will eventually form the team he starts at the Royal Ascot meeting in England on June 14-18.

Already this spring, Ward has won three races in France with as many starters and will have another when Holdin Bullets starts in a five-furlong allowance race at Chantilly on Friday.

Ward has six horses based in France and is sending another three, along with longtime assistant trainer Blake Heap, this week. The group consists mostly of 2-year-olds, and Holiday for Kitten, a 3-year-old filly who beat older fillies and mares in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland on April 23.

In coming weeks, Ward said he will have runners at Folkestone, England, and in France on May 26, and others that could run on June 3. One of them is Italo, an unraced gelding by With Distinction.

“He’s never had a start,” Ward said. “He looks like a grass horse.”

The results of those late May and early June races will determine which horses start at Royal Ascot, Ward said.

“It all depends on how they’re doing,” Ward said. “It’s relatively quick to go from June 3 to Royal Ascot.”

Tiz Terrific, a Tiznow filly who won a maiden race at Longchamp on April 30, is a candidate for the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15. Ward also won allowance races at Chantilly on May 2 with Everyday Dave and Judy the Beauty, who won maiden races at Keeneland in April. They are expected to start at Royal Ascot.

Ward, 43, became the first American-based trainer to win at Royal Ascot in 2009 when Strike the Tiger won the Windsor Castle Stakes and Jealous Again won the Queen Mary Stakes.

The current team is by far the largest that Ward has ever sent to Europe. He currently has 40 horses based at Keeneland.

“Success in numbers is an easy way to do it,” he said. “The more you can bring over, the better chance you have of winning. When you’re dealing with 2-year-olds, and racehorses as a whole, anything can happen. They can get sick or come up with a shin. Something can knock you off.

“The first three are winners and their trips are covered for what they earned. It’s a free roll from here. Hopefully, we’ll have some success with the next ones.”