Like the King Profile
|Name||Like the King|
|Born||Feb 13, 2018|
Trained by Wesley A. Ward, Like the King was disappointing in the Kentucky Derby, despite performing strongly in qualifying.
Like the King was considered one of the longer-priced chances for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, despite going into the Run for the Roses in decent form. He finished in fourth place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but ultimately fell short at Churchill Downs, crossing the line in 12th position, 10-and-three-quarter lengths back from the winner, Medina Spirit.
2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby
Like the King qualified for the Kentucky Derby this year by amassing 104 points. The three-year-old had been on track twice this season, improving each time ahead of the Churchill Downs showpiece. His performances last season were mixed, but he still finished inside the top three in all four races in which he participated.
His first career run came at Belterra Park in a Maiden Special Weight on July 29, as he finished seven and three-quarter lengths behind Lonesome Sound.
His return to the same track on September 9 saw him win his second Maiden Special Weight. At Keeneland in October, he disappointed when finishing third, 12 lengths behind winner Next in an Allowance Race, but he made up for this by winning an Allowance Optional Claiming race at Turfway Park on December 4.
His 2021 season-opening run came at Turfway Park over a mile and half a furlong, and he put in an excellent effort to finish second in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, picking up four Road to the Kentucky Derby points. Hush of a Storm finished that particular race a length and a half ahead.
The three-year-old was certainly building momentum ahead of the Kentucky Derby and was very impressive in his last race - the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks. On the all-weather track, he finished a length clear of Sainthood to garner 100 points, sealing his place in the Kentucky Derby.
Jeff Ruby Steaks success
The victory at Turfway Park certainly enhanced the belief that he could fly under the radar in the Kentucky Derby.
It was an excellent showing by Like the King, as he looked comfortable travelling over the distance. It was another example that he was getting better with every run, and that he had come an awful long way from the distant second at Belterra Park on his maiden start.
Despite the manner of success in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, gamblers could still pick holes through his form though. He didn't come up against fierce competition in that renewal, despite being set off at a price of 7/1.
The change in jockey was thought to be a particularly important factor, with Drayden Van Dyke taking the reins at Turfway Park in March. The 26-year-old has won a wide selection of significant races during his career so far, including the Santa Ynez Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes and the Del Mar Oaks last year.
However, the biggest concern for Like the King was that his win was on the all-weather. Both his runs on dirt had ended in comprehensive defeats and so this proved once again in the Kentucky Derby.
Like the King's connections
Like the King is trained by Washington Thoroughbred Hall of Famer Wesley A. Ward. The former Champion Jockey has recorded over 1,900 wins as a trainer, including victories in some of the biggest races in the sport. However, he has yet to win the Kentucky Derby during his illustrious career.
His first major success came in the Will Rogers Handicap in 1994 with Unfinished Symph.
He made history in 2009 when he became the first US-based trainer to win a stakes race at the illustrious Royal Ascot Festival. His winner at the meeting was Strike the Tiger in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Further success followed the next day, as he trained Jealous Again to win the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes.
Success has been easier to find in the United Kingdom over the last five years for Ward, as he has also trained winners in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the King's Stand Stakes and the Sandringham Handicap.
Ward is also a three-time winning trainer in the Group 1 Prix Morny. He most recently trained the winner of this race in 2020, Campanelle.
Like the King is owned by M Racing Group LLC, who have enjoyed a fairly decent 2021 to this point. They have accumulated over $215,000 in prize earnings this season.
Since 2000, they have claimed over 260 winners from 1,250 starts, with more than $3.4million being won in prize money. Tonito M is one of their most successful horses, as he claimed success in the Oklahoma Derby in 2014. Yes Its Legal is their only Grade 1 winner to date, winning the Clasico Jose Coll Vidal in 2006.
Like the King's pedigree
Like the King is a colt from Palace Malice and Like a Queen by Corinthian.
Palace Malice was trained by Todd Pletcher and won multiple Grade 1s. His biggest success came with victory in the Belmont Stakes in 2013. He also won multiple Graded races between eight and nine furlongs. His record at Belmont Park was impressive as he won three from six, finished second in two, and was third in the other race.
Like a Queen by Corinthian earned over $125,000 in her career, with two first place finishes. The winning finishes were both at Gulfstream Park.
Corinthian achieved some success during his career, with the six wins that he achieved coming over one mile. His biggest success came in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile as he won by six and a half lengths from Gottcha Gold. He also achieved Grade 1 success in the form of the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in May 2007.