Breeze Easy's Shang Shang Shang went gate to wire and just lasted to land the Norfolk Stakes June 21 at Royal Ascot. The win was a second success in the race for trainer Wesley Ward, after No Nay Never in 2013, and Ward’s 10th win overall at the meeting since his first visit in 2009.
With the win, Shang Shang Shang became the first horse to earn an automatic berth into the new Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 2 via the international Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” Series.
Shang Shang Shang, a Shanghai Bobby filly, was making her second career start, after winning a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland on the dirt on April 26. Her Norfolk effort produced the kind of display the Ascot crowd has come to expect from a Ward-trained horse.
Quick to make the lead, Shang Shang Shang traveled powerfully in front and it was only in the closing stages that jockey Joel Rosario had to get serious with his mount. Once asked, she fought gamely, just repelling the late challenge of Pocket Dynamo by a nose, with Land Force, a son of No Nay Never, a further half-length back in third. Final time for the five-furlong race on good to firm turf was :59.83.
It was a second win in the race for Rosario, who also partnered No Nay Never. He admitted that he was getting slightly nervous close to home.
"I thought for a second [the runner-up] was going to come and get me but she responded to everything I asked of her," Rosario said. "She was very calm at the beginning, broke well, and this is a little bit different for her. It was very close but we got it done.
"It's like a dream come true to be here. I'm really happy and feel blessed."
Ward, who had endured a couple of disappointments with Lady Aurelia and Chelsea Cloisters earlier in the week, was back in fine spirits after the race.
"I'll tell you what, this feeling is the best. There's nothing like it. I'm excited." Ward said. "To do this with a filly is quite unbelievable. I come here every year, but we were kind of scratching our heads for a few days and felt like we were back at the beginning and wondering if we were in the wrong place or not. We had done all the planning but it wasn't coming through, thank God it did today, barely."
The only filly in a 10-strong field, Florida-bred Shang Shang Shang is from the second crop of Ashford Stud's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby. She was purchased by Breeze Easy for $200,000 at this year's Ocala Breeders Sales Company March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.–Tom Haywood at Thoroughbred Publishers