Wesley Ward Saddles McErin in Thursday’s Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot

The Norfolk Stakes (GII), which has been carded as Thursday’s first race, is widely known as the first major race for juveniles on the European racing calendar and some well-known names have visited the Royal Ascot winner’s circle since the race was first run in 1843 as the New Stakes and renamed in 1973 in honor of the Duke of Norfolk. A year ago, Prince of Lir was triumphant in the five-furlong dash and added his name to a long list of historic winners that includes No Nay Never and Johannesburg.


Wesley Ward

This year, 18 two-year-old colts will race the five furlongs and leading the pack is Waterford Stable’s McErin, shipping in from Kentucky for trainer Wesley Ward. The chestnut son of Trappe Shot broke his maiden at Keeneland by 7 ½ lengths on dirt in April, then came back to finish third in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill last month. He makes his turf debut for Ascot’s most successful American trainer and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who already own a win this week together with Lady Aurelia.

The local favorite is the undefeated Santry, who broke his maiden at Doncaster before winning a listed stakes at York last month. The son of Harbour Watch is undefeated at the distance and on the grass and he should even appreciate the weather tomorrow if the predicted rain arrives and provides some give to the course after a week of firm conditions. The Declan Carroll trainee will be ridden by Jim Crowley.

Consequences was behind Santry at York last month but won a Catterick Bridge event earlier this month as a prep for this event. Havana Gray has won two of three starts, including a stakes at Sandown Park last out, defeating one of Thursday’s rivals, Frozen Angel.

The post time for the Norfolk Stakes has been set at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.