Racing Spotlight: Dayoutoftheoffice, Paco Lopez, Wesley Ward
Racing Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a horse, jockey, and trainer with insightful information to help our players be informed.
This week, we look at Dayoutoftheoffice, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up who returns to racing in the Eight Belles; Paco Lopez, who is on a hot streak at Gulfstream; and Wesley Ward, who wrapped up his seventh Keeneland training title last week.
Horse spotlight: Dayoutoftheoffice
Dayoutoftheoffice is back to work and making her three-year-old debut in the Eight Belles Stakes (G2) on April 30, a race on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. In her last start, she finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The dark bay led at almost every point of call, but Vequist, the champion 2-year-old filly of last year, passed her in the late stages.
Before the Breeders’ Cup, she was perfect in three starts. As a two-year-old, she moved up in class each race, stretched out further each time and won on three different ovals.
She debuted in a maiden special weight Gulfstream against six unraced foes. She led at every point of call and pulled away in the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths and paid $8.80.
Even with this daylight score, she was overlooked by bettors in her second race, where she vaulted to grade 3 company in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) on opening day at Saratoga and went off at 19-1 odds. Heavily-favored Beautiful Memories stumbled out of the gate and did not finish. After bumping a rival, Dayoutoftheoffice stalked the pace on the outside and pulled away to easily win by six lengths.
She earned her place in the Juvenile Fillies with a win in the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. In this race, she held off favorite Vequist by two-lengths, giving trainer Timothy Hamm, whose career began in 1996 at River Downs, his first grade 1 win and his first Breeders’ Cup starter. Hamm’s Blazing Meadows Farm co-owns the filly with Siena Farm.
Dayoutoftheoffice is by leading sire Into Mischief, who is also the father of 2020 Kentucky Derby winner Authentic.
Jockey spotlight: Paco Lopez
Paco Lopez is on a hot streak at Gulfstream. On April 17, he rode four winners on the card. The next day, he notched three wins, four seconds, and a third. Since the meet started on April 1, Lopez has won at 21% and finished in the top three at 62%.
He currently ranks second in wins among all North American jockeys, with 93 in the year so far. On April 10, he rode his 3,000 career winner, one of his four wins on the day’s card.
“I’m very excited and I thank God for my family and for the chance to ride in America,” Lopez said.
Lopez has won 89 career graded-stakes, including the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) with Roy H. Three times in his career, Lopez has won seven races on a single card. He did it twice in 2014 at Monmouth and again March 21, 2020, at Gulfstream, each time sharing the track record.
The 35-year-old is originally from Mexico, and he started his career there riding quarter horses before moving to south Florida. He won the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice in 2008, and he has won riding titles at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Monmouth Park.
His family includes his wife, Renata, and two young sons. He has had the same agent, Cory Moran, since the beginning of his career.
Trainer spotlight: Wesley Ward
Wesley Ward recently wrapped up his seventh title at Keeneland when the 15-day spring meet concluded. During it, Ward won three graded stakes, including the Madison Stakes (G1) with Kimuri. He is known for doing well with the 2-year-olds on the Lexington oval.
He saddles Like the King in the Kentucky Derby, an opportunity the duo secured with a win in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.
In 2021, he has won at a 33% rate and has finished in the trifecta at a 62% rate.
His training operation is based at Keeneland year-round, and he ranks seventh among all trainers for career victories at Keeneland.
Ward was born in Washington into a racing family. His father, Dennis Ward, is a jockey-turned-trainer who is currently competing, and his grandfather was a steeplechase rider and then an outrider in New York.
On the day Wesley Ward turned 16, he rode in a race at Aqueduct. He didn’t win that day, but he did soon after that, and his career took off. He received the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice in 1984. In 1991, he traded his tack for a training license.
He made history as the first American to win at Royal Ascot. He has eleven wins in this champion series and four in the Breeders’ Cup.