The Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia roared back to her brilliant best with an astonishing display in the Listed Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, setting her on course with a date at Royal Ascot in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs in June.
Partnered by John Velazquez, the three-year-old was always travelling well and entering the home straight, showed a blistering turn of foot to blast clear of her rivals in taking fashion, eventually winning by a decisive two and a half lengths to Nobody’s Fault in second, with stable companion Ruby Notion in third.
Not seen since doing far too much too early in the G1 Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes, in which the filly eventually finished a disappointing third in September, this was a performance synonymous with her G1 Prix Morny and G2 Queen Mary victories last season.
All roads now lead back to Royal Ascot, where she looks likely to contest the G1 King’s Stand where she is now a general 7/2 shot from 6/1. However, bookmakers have also priced up the filly for the G1 Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs, for which she is a general 12/1 shot.
A delighted Ward, who does so well with sprinters, said:
This sets her up perfect [to return to Royal Ascot]. She’s a wonderful filly and has a big future. I’m excited to get back over to England to Ascot. She’ll train right here at Keeneland until we go.
Lot of credit goes out to (jockey) Julio Garcia, who gets on her and works her every day. Instead of shooting to the front, he gets her to relax. He sits back with her and every time she works, she gets more and more relaxed. I think that’s going to be a big key to where we want to go.
Our ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. That will be five-eighths on the turf at Del Mar. It should suit her perfect.