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2023 Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Reaper Leads Local Hope In Royal Ascot Prep
Reaper (Coglianese Photos / Ryan Thompson)

2023 Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Reaper Leads Local Hope In Royal Ascot Prep

Mike previews the 2023 Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes from Gulfstream Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this “Win & You’re In” for 1 of 6 races at the Royal Ascot meet. Debut winner Reaper carries the local hope against several tough 2-year-olds, including Holding the Line for trainer Wesley Ward. Who gets the victory? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Trainer Wesley Ward, who has saddled 12 winners at Royal Ascot during his remarkable career, will be well represented at Gulfstream Park May 13 when he sends out Steve Cauthen’s Holding the Line for a start in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Ocean Maid for a run in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies.

The Royal Palm Juvenile, a five furlongs turf stakes for 2-year-olds, and the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five furlong turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies, will each provide its winner with an automatic berth into one of six stakes during the June 20-24 Royal Ascot meeting, as well as a $25,000 equine travel stipend for shipping from the U.S. to England. The FTBOA will offer a $25,000 bonus, above and beyond purse money won, to a Florida-bred winner in addition to the winner’s share of the purse.

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Holding the Line, an Irish-bred son of Soldier’s Call, is prominent in a field of 10 entered for the inaugural running of the Royal Palm Juvenile.

Holding the Line was purchased for $71,070 at the 2022 Tattersalls October yearling sale by Cauthen, ‘The Kid’ who rode Affirmed for a sweep of the 1977 Triple Crown before enjoying a highly successful career riding in Europe.

“He’s a horse purchased over in England. Steve picked him out with the hopes he himself can get back to Royal Ascot. They had him there last year commentating,” Ward said.

Holding the Line is unraced due to the lack of turf opportunities for 2-year-olds at Keeneland this spring.

“There was only one race, and every trainer was allowed only one horse in the race if it oversubscribed. That entrant was Fandom,” Ward said.

Ward saddled Stonestreet Stables’ Fandom for a 6 ¾-length triumph on turf April 27 to earn his way to Royal Ascot.

Holding the Line is well prepared for his career debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile.

“He’s a beautiful colt. He improved in his workouts at Palm Meadows when he was down in Florida on the grass. He’s bred top and bottom for the turf, so I’m anxious to get him on there,” said Ward by phone from his Keeneland base.

Holding the Line continued his training at Keeneland before shipping to Payson Park, where he breezed three furlongs in 37 seconds Saturday morning.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez has been named to ride Holding the Line, who figures to face a stern test in his debut.

Trainer George Weaver entered Dew Sweepers LLC’s Blast Furnace in the Royal Palm Juvenile, as well as unraced No Nay Mets, who was purchased for $335,000 at the OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale.

Blast Furnace chased the Ward-trained Fandom at Keeneland in the April 27 five-furlong maiden special weight race on turf before settling for second. No Nay Mets is a son of No Nay Never, whom Ward saddled for a victory in the 2013 Norfolk at Royal Ascot.

Edwin Gonzalez has been named on Blast Furnace, while Luca Panici has the call on Irish-bred No Nay Mets.

Arindel’s Reaper, an impressive 5 ¾-length winner over Gulfstream’s main track April 21, was entered to make his turf debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile. Emisael Jaramillo was given the call aboard the homebred son of Brethren.

Arindel will also be represented by Tiberian Sun, an unraced homebred son of Brethren. Reaper and Tiberian Sun are two of four Florida-bred entrants eligible for the FTBOA bonus. Jacks or Better Farm Inc.’s Northshore Drive, who finished third behind Reaper, and Iron Horse Racing Stable LLC and Harlow Stables LLC’s Mattingly, an unraced son of Bucchero, are also Florida-bred.

Xaverius Racing Corp.’s Praiseworthy, Gerald James and Hall Performance LLC’s Shotgun Pro, and EAC Racing Stable LLC’s Zaino, round out the field.