ELMONT, NY – Trainer Wesley Ward will saddle promising 2-year-old Fauci in a 5-furlong maiden sprint on Big Sandy set as Wednesday’s third race on the Opening Day of the 25-day spring/summer meet, to be contested without spectators, at Belmont Park.
The Malibu Moon colt, a $175,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is named for Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health since 1984.
Dr. Fauci, one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, has played a prominent role on the White House Coronavirus Task Force throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The 79-year-old Fauci is a native of Brooklyn, New York.
Owned by Lindy Farms and Ice Wine Stable (Dave Reid and Frank Antonacci), it was Phillip Antonacci, Frank’s son, who selected both the horse and the name for the promising colt.
“Phillip Antonacci purchased the horse at Keeneland,” said Ward. “Being of Italian-American descent, and for all the great work that Dr. Fauci’s done, they wanted to find a horse, especially in this time, that they could give a high-profile name to and this is the one.”
Fauci’s second dam, Sun Shower, produced multiple Group 1-winning turfer and $2.6-million earner Excelebration and the millionaire Group 1-winner Lancaster Bomber.
Ward said Fauci has shown speed and ability on both the turf at Palm Meadows and the Keeneland dirt, where he is currently training lights out over the main track.
“He’s training unbelievable,” said Ward. “He’s a bigger colt. He doesn’t have a typical speed horse look to him. It looks like he’ll go a little further. He has a long stride and is just an athlete. He goes just as fast as you want him to.
“He worked phenomenal on the grass early on down at Palm Meadows,” added Ward. “He’s equally good, if not a shade better, on the grass. That said, all of his works on the dirt at Keeneland have been eye-openers.”
Fauci will emerge from post 3 under Tyler Gaffalione in a field of six.
Bound for Nowhere, owned and trained by Ward, could be bound for the $250,000 Jaipur Stakes (G1) Presented by America’s Best Racing. The 6-furlong turf sprint, which offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland, is set for Belmont Stakes Day, June 20.
The 6-year-old son of The Factor has won 6 of 13 starts, including scores in the 2018 Shakertown Stakes (G2) at Keeneland that garnered a career-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure and a sizzling 4 1/4-length score in an optional-claiming sprint in October 2019 on the Belmont turf that earned a 106 Beyer.
“I’m training him for the Jaipur,” Ward said. “He’s training outstanding right now. We were going to go to Ascot, but with the Breeders’ Cup being in Keeneland this fall, I don’t want to keep moving him around too much.”
The Belmont romp, in which Bound for Nowhere overcame a stumbled start, was on the back of a four-month layoff after an off-the-board effort in the 2019 Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Ascot.
“He pulled a muscle in England,” Ward said. “It took me all summer to get him back right until the fall when he ran a big race at Belmont, but it was just too quick back to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Instead, Ward pointed Bound for Nowhere to the San Simeon Stakes (G3) on March 21 at Santa Anita where he was a game second, beaten a head, to possible Jaipur rival Cistron.
“He got beat on the line with some trip excuses in the race,” Ward said. “He’s working really good right now.”
Ten Broeck Farm’s Kimari breezed 5/8 in 1:00.60 Saturday on the Keeneland turf.
“She worked well yesterday on the grass at Keeneland and I have her scheduled for the Commonwealth at Ascot,” said Ward.
Breeze Easy’s Four Wheel Drive, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) at Santa Anita in November, was undefeated in 3 starts heading into his seasonal debut in a Churchill Downs allowance on May 17. Off a step slowly in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, Four Wheel Drive failed to fire when seventh.
“He has me scratching my head,” Ward said. “He came out of the race with no issues. Other than his stutter step at the start, it’s hard to find an excuse. You’d think an undefeated Breeders’ Cup winner would be able to sit back and make a run, but he didn’t. We’ll breeze him Saturday on the grass and see if maybe that race tightened him down to where it was a lack of fitness that he didn’t have that punch in the last part.”