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Homeracing

Royal Ascot runner Fairyland returns for Ward at Saratoga

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 14th, 2017

Wednesday’s $100,000 Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga marks the U.S. reappearance of the Coolmore partners’ Fairyland, last seen finishing a disappointing 12th in Royal Ascot’s Albany (G3) for Wesley Ward.

She’s actually been entered twice already since returning home, but her two intended races came off the turf, a July 24 allowance here as well as the August 5 Colleen at Monmouth. Scratched both times rather than deal with off tracks, Fairyland is likely to get her opportunity with a pleasant Wednesday forecast.

A well-bred daughter of Scat Daddy who sold for $375,000 at Keeneland September, Fairyland made a big impression in her unveiling during the Lexington track’s spring meet. She sped straight to the early lead in the 4 1/2-furlong dirt dash and opened up by 3 1/4 lengths down the lane. That was a debut evocative of one of Ward’s serious Royal Ascot prospects.

Fairyland had a choice of targets, the five-furlong Queen Mary (G2) or the six-furlong Albany, both down the straightaway. The shorter race would have been a more natural progression from her maiden, and following a pattern resembling Ward’s typical Royal Ascot juvenile winners. But Ward had another first-rate prospect for the Queen Mary in speedball Happy Like a Fool (who ended up finishing second), and preferred Fairyland to tackle the extra distance.

The Albany just didn’t pan out for Fairyland, though. Drawn in post 14 of 20, she was steered toward the stands’ side as the field split into two groups, and led that group before fading. Although the top two finishers came on the far side of the course, Fairyland’s location on the track alone can’t account for her performance. According to Racing Post, a clutch of the stands’ side fillies finished third through sixth overall, and Fairyland trudged home well beaten in her group.

 

The Bolton Landing, on the other hand, should fit her perfectly as a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint around a turn. Also, Fairyland will return to wearing blinkers. She’d sported them at Keeneland, but took the headgear off for Royal Ascot. As if the re-application didn’t make enough sense in principle, Ward is 32 percent in the “blinkers back on” category according to the Brisnet stats.

Adding to the appeal, Fairyland picks up the services of Irad Ortiz Jr., who’s clicking at a 50 percent rate for Ward over the past 60 days. She promises to come out swinging from the rail.

Fairyland is one of two entrants for Ward, who won last year’s Bolton Landing in resounding fashion with Con Te Partiro. His other chance, Mentality, wired her debut in a six-furlong turf maiden at Belmont Park. The Freud filly is drawn right next to her stablemate in post 2 and keeps Ricardo Santana Jr. in the saddle.

Mark Casse fields a promising contender in Sly Beauty. Fourth to eventual Schuylerville (G3) romper Dream It Is and future Shady Well winner Glamanation in their mutual debut on Woodbine’s Tapeta, Sly Beauty aired next time when switching to turf. Now she gets Javier Castellano. She stacks up in the pedigree department too, as an Into Mischief filly out of a Grade 2-placed half-sister to 2007 champion two-year-old colt War Pass and 1996 Spinaway (G1) winner Oath.

Buy Sell Hold, a smashing Keeneland firster who beat the boys in the Kentucky Juvenile, retreated to fifth in the Schuylerville. Trainer Steve Asmussen must have seen enough from her test spins over the turf to give the daughter of freshman sire Violence a surface switch. Florent Geroux, aboard for all three starts so far, sticks with Lady Tak’s granddaughter.

Todd Pletcher is double-handed with Sugar Queen and March X Press. Sugar Queen, a long-way fourth in the Astoria, dominated an off-the-turf allowance in the Spa slop (the very one that Fairyland, and Sly Beauty, swerved). March X Press was a last-to-first winner in a course-and-distance New York-bred maiden for freshman sire Shanghai Bobby. March X Press’s three-quarter sister by Harlan’s Holiday, Harlan’s Honor, won the 2014 Colleen on the Monmouth lawn. Both Pletcher runners will retain their riders – Hall of Famer John Velazquez on Sugar Queen and Jose Ortiz on March X Press.

Madame X., a nine-length conqueror when beginning her career in a Laurel turf sprint, invades for Susan Cooney. Life Time Citizen, whose only win from three starts came in her lone turf try by six lengths at Indiana Grand, makes her first outing for Phil Serpe.

Photo of Fairyland courtesy of Racing UK via Twitter

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