By Ed McNamara
Wesley Ward got his mojo back Saturday in a race he owns. In his last chance to avoid a shutout week at Royal Ascot, Ward teamed with Frankie Dettori to take the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes with 2-year-old filly Campanelle.
Dettori stalked in third on the 5-1 shot before taking the lead inside the final furlong and edging away from Sacred by three-quarters of a length. Campanelle’s stablemate Royal Approval finished 17th of 18.
Ward’s 11th victory at the Royal meeting was his fourth in the 5-furlong Queen Mary, following Lady Aurelia (2016), Acapulco (2015) and Jealous Again (2009).
“I had high hopes and expectations for this filly,” Ward said from Kentucky. “She had to ship from Miami through Amsterdam to Newmarket, and for her to come through proves what a good filly she is.”
Campanelle launched a big day for the 49-year-old Dettori, whose three wins gave him 73 at the Royal meeting.
“I had plenty of horse left,” he said. “She’s very sensible, she’s not a tearaway. When I asked her to quicken, she quickened really well. When I ride for Wesley, he leaves it up to me. His horses are always well schooled and know their job.”
The 2-year-old Irish-bred also kicked off a monumental day for her sire, Kodiac. In the next race, 160-1 shot Nando Parrado became the longest-priced winner in the history of Royal Ascot, which started in 1711. Nando Parrado paid $234.20 for a $2 bet. Hello Youmzain ($11.20) also scored for Kodiac in the 6-furlong, Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Campanelle is owned by Barbara Banke, who with her late husband, Jess Jackson, raced superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, winner of the 2009 Preakness Stakes (G1).
“The owners are big supporters of mine, they also had Lady Aurelia with me,” Ward said. “Frankie rode such a brilliant race. It’s great. Words don’t describe how I feel right now. It means more given that this is not a normal year.”
COVID-19 restrictions kept Ward away from Royal Ascot for the first time since 2008, the year before his first win there. American Blake Heap served as his assistant trainer this week, when Ward went 1-for-7 and avoided his first zero since 2012.
Maryland-based Graham Motion stayed home, too, and the transplanted Englishman’s star 3-year-old filly Sharing also came up big Saturday, finishing second in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Sharing, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champion, ran second to Dettori and Alpine Star, who rallied powerfully to score by 4¼ lengths.
It was the third time Dettori has teamed with Ward for a Royal Ascot victory. A year ago, Dettori denied his friend in a photo finish.
Ward finished second twice Thursday and was eighth, ninth and 10th with his first three runners. “We’ve had some near misses this year,” he said, “so we needed that.”
Dettori was happy he could provide it for him.
“I’m pleased,” he said. “Barbara is a big supporter of mine, and so is Wesley. I wish they were here to celebrate with me, but we will get together very soon.”
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.