By Ed McNamara
Wesley Ward called her “my best 5-furlong horse,” and John Velazquez gave speedy Twilight Gleaming her best shot to win the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes. The Hall of Famer put her on a clear lead, but with a furlong to go, trouble was coming.
Quick Suzy had been tracking the 2-1 favorite from the start, and she burst up the rail on the grandstand side to overtake Twilight Gleaming. The 8-1 shot ridden by Irishman Gary Carroll won by 1 1/4 lengths, denying Ward in Wednesday’s opener on day 2 of Royal Ascot.
“I sat close to the American horse, and every step of the way I was waiting,” Carroll said. “She got maybe a half-length ahead of me, but we outbattled her to the line.”
Finishing fourth, 3 1/4 lengths behind, was Artos, Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold’s first runner at England’s showcase meeting.
Ward was upbeat about Twilight Gleaming’s chances in a prerace interview with Sky Sports.
“She came to the top of the ones we had for this race, which we’ve won four times,” he said. “We had a tough day yesterday (0-for-2), but we’re happy now.”
It didn’t get any better for Ward later in the day, when Ruthin, the 3-1 favorite, and 8-1 Golden Bell ran seventh and 16th, respectively, in the 5-furlong Windsor Castle Stakes. Like Twilight Gleaming, Ruthin led by daylight, but she backed up under Frankie Dettori in the final furlong, finishing 3 3/4 lengths behind 22-1 winner Chipotle. Golden Bell and Velazquez chased the pace before tiring badly late.
Ward, who has trained 11 Royal Ascot winners, is 0-for-5 this week. He has Nakatomi and Lucci in Thursday’s Group 2, 5-furlong Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds.
Even-money favorite Love led throughout and took the 1 1/4-mile St. James’s Palace Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Audarya, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Females ran 1-2 against males in the day’s only Group 1. It was trainer Aidan O’Brien’s fourth winner in the race and rider Ryan Moore’s second.
“She’s a high-class filly,” Moore said. “It was her first run since last August and she was able to beat a Breeders’ Cup winner, so I am sure she will improve, but I am delighted with her today.”
Around the track
Dettori collaborated with the father-son training team of John and Thady Gosden by pulling off a 22-1 upset on Indie Angel in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Dettori came up the golden inside rail and extended his Royal Ascot record with his 75th win. He and the Gosdens hooked up twice for wins Tuesday … Kemari, at 6-1, rallied with William Buick to take the 1 3/4-mile Queen’s Vase for Charles Appleby, who trains Epsom Derby winner Adayar. Buick’s nose triumph Tuesday on 66-1 Reshoun came with a high price: an 11-day suspension for improper use of the whip. He was penalized for using it “above the permitted level and down the shoulder in the forehand” in the final quarter mile … Marco Ghiani, a relatively unknown young rider, dominated by 4 3/4 lengths on 18-1 shot Real World in the ultimate cavalry charge, the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup at a mile on the straight course. Ghiani defied a two-day track bias by coming down the far side … In the seven-race card’s finale, front-running Lola Showgirl (12-1) gave Laura Pearson her first win at the royal meeting in the mile Kensington Palace Stakes.