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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Havana, No Nay Never Enter Swale by Divergent Paths


No Nay Never looks the part, but his route to the Swale Stakes has been like none of the other six entries.

Wesley Ward is not inhibited in his praise for the son of Scat Daddy.

“His physical make-up is striking. It’s like the ultimate specimen of a horse,” Ward said. “He has a beautiful head, a beautiful shoulder. He has a beautiful hip on him. He’s pitch black, not a spot of bay on him. He’s just gorgeous.”

No Nay Never has not only won all three of his career races, he has been victorious in three different countries -- the U.S., England and France.

No Nay Never debuted at Keeneland on April 26, scoring a two-length win in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race over the main track's synthetic surface. Ward was no stranger to Royal Ascot, having in 2009 become the first American-based trainer to win there. He saddled Strike the Tiger for a 33-1 upset in the Windsor Castle Stakes and, a day later, scored with Jealous Again in the Queen Mary Stakes in 2009.

So Ward decided to go for it again and shipped No Nay Never to England. He returned to the Royal Ascot winner’s circle with No Nay Never, who captured the six-furlong Norfolk Stakes by a length under Joel Rosario.

“I didn’t think he could lose,” Ward said. “I’ve never gone over there when I didn’t think I could win, but this year, I really didn’t think he could lose.”

No Nay Never was sent back to Europe in August, when he closed from off the pace to capture the six-furlong Prix Morny by a length under David Flores at Deauville in France.

He'll have yet another rider on Saturday, Javier Castellano. He will make his debut on No Nay Never.

While Ward has loing dominated with 2-year-olds during the early season, particularly at Keeneland, the Washington native said he knew No Nay Never was much more than a precocious colt the first time he saw him breeze.

“It was like watching a high school athlete against middle schoolers,” Ward said. “Or a college athlete against high schoolers, or a professional athlete against college.”

Owned by Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith and Ice Wine Stable, the well-traveled colt was given some time off after his second trip to Europe. The Swale will be his first start since.

“He takes it all in stride. His races were spaced out from his first to his last. I thought if I kept pressing forward for the Breeders’ Cup or whatever other race, it would have gotten on his mind and maybe he’d get a little speed crazy,” Ward said. “When I stopped with him last year, I had this race in mind.”

No Nay Never's main competition is expected to be Havana, who captured the one-mile Champagne and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall. But Ward doesn't seem concerned with that or with the surface switch to Gulfstream Park. The colt has turned in some sharp works on the main track there.

“It seems to me that Gulfstream is his preferred surface. That’s a little scary with all he’s accomplished,” said Ward. . “I’m really excited for this race. I usually don’t get too excited for races. I’m really excited that Havana’s going to be in there. Obviously, you’d like an easier race to come back in, but he is training so good right now. I think it will let him show his true class.”

Havana also is slated to make his first start of the year.

“We just wanted to freshen him up a little bit after the Breeders’ Cup, and we got behind schedule a touch, but we’ve been able to make up some ground with a solid work pattern over the past month or so,” said Todd Pletcher, who named John Velazquez to ride the son of Dunkirk. “His fitness level looks good. I think he’s coming up to it well.”

Havana, also owned by Tabor, Magnier and Smith, broke his maiden at Saratoga in August, winning a 5 1/2-furlong race by 2 3/4 lengths. He jumped right into graded stakes company in the Champagne, winning by a neck. Favored in the Juvenile despite his poor post position, the Kentucky-bred colt appeared on his way to his third-straight victory before giving way to New Year's Day.

“I thought he ran very well. Unfortunately, he finished second. It looked like he was going to win at the eighth-pole and he kind of hung the last part of it,” Pletcher said. “We’re trying to determine how far he wants to go.”

Prudhoe Bay, Breitling Flyer and Can’t Stop the Kid – who finished 1-2-3, respectively, in the OBS Sprint at Ocala Training Center on Jan. 21 – were all entered in the Swale. Spot and Brothersofthetime round out the seven-horse field.

Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey

Saturday, R9
Grade II Swale Stakes
Gulfstream Park
Seven Furlongs
Post Time: 5:10 ET

Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Sx  Wt Trainer
1  Havana (KY) 9-5  J. Velazquez  C  123  T. Pletcher
2  Can't Stop the Kid (FL) 6-1  L. Saez  C  117  D. Green
3  No Nay Never (KY) 2-1  J. Castellano  C  123  W. Ward
4  Prudhoe Bay (FL) 5-1  P. Lopez  C  121  E. Plesa Jr.
5  Spot (KY) 10-1  J. Lezcano  G  117  N. Zito
6  Brothersofthetime (FL) 12-1  J. Rios  C  121  A. Sano
7  Breitling Flyer (FL) 8-1  L. Contreras  C  117  L. Azpura Jr.

All will run with Lasix.

Owners: 1 - Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier ; 2 - Tommy Roberts Racing Stable LLC and Daniel C. Hurtak ; 3 - Ice Wine Stable, Susan Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, and Derrick Smith ; 4 - Rustlewood Farm, Inc. ; 5 - Joseph H. Moss ; 6 - Gelfenstein Farm, LLC ; 7 - Rontos Racing Stable Corp.

Breeders: 1 - Harvey A. Clarke Racing Stable LLC; 2 - Centaur Farms, Inc.; 3 - Jayne Doi Johnson & David Sparrow; 4 - Rustlewood Farm, Inc.; 5 - Curtis C. Green; 6 - Marion G. Montanari; 7 - Bathen Thoroughbreds, LLC & StonestreetThoroughbred Holdings, LLC

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