Wesley Ward Saddles McErin in Thursday’s Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot

The Norfolk Stakes (GII), which has been carded as Thursday’s first race, is widely known as the first major race for juveniles on the European racing calendar and some well-known names have visited the Royal Ascot winner’s circle since the race was first run in 1843 as the New Stakes and renamed in 1973 in honor of the Duke of Norfolk. A year ago, Prince of Lir was triumphant in the five-furlong dash and added his name to a long list of historic winners that includes No Nay Never and Johannesburg.

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Wesley Ward

This year, 18 two-year-old colts will race the five furlongs and leading the pack is Waterford Stable’s McErin, shipping in from Kentucky for trainer Wesley Ward. The chestnut son of Trappe Shot broke his maiden at Keeneland by 7 ½ lengths on dirt in April, then came back to finish third in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill last month. He makes his turf debut for Ascot’s most successful American trainer and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who already own a win this week together with Lady Aurelia.

The local favorite is the undefeated Santry, who broke his maiden at Doncaster before winning a listed stakes at York last month. The son of Harbour Watch is undefeated at the distance and on the grass and he should even appreciate the weather tomorrow if the predicted rain arrives and provides some give to the course after a week of firm conditions. The Declan Carroll trainee will be ridden by Jim Crowley.

Consequences was behind Santry at York last month but won a Catterick Bridge event earlier this month as a prep for this event. Havana Gray has won two of three starts, including a stakes at Sandown Park last out, defeating one of Thursday’s rivals, Frozen Angel.

The post time for the Norfolk Stakes has been set at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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