Steve Cauthen, Wesley Ward, and Lenny Goodman, a full circle connection almost half a century later

May 13, 2023

Steve Cauthen, Wesley Ward and Jockey Agent Lenny Goodman come full circle at Gulfstream Park

A little history today at Gulfstream Park

The Royal Palm Stakes, a $100,000 race for two-year-olds will be run as the 6th race on the card at Gulfstream Park today. It is one of two ‘baby’ races on the turf at Gulfstream today and with just a few weeks until Royal Ascot, and Wesley Ward bringing one for each race along with John Velazquez to ride, it is being called a potential Royal Ascot day.

Being somewhat of a racing historian, something else caught my eye as an interesting sub plot.

Ward’s entry in The Royal Palm, Holding the Line (IRE) a two-year-old Soldier’s Call colt is owned by none other than former Triple Crown winning jockey Steve Cauthen.

Steve Cauthen was a bug boy or apprentice sensation back in the 70’s. His American career which was followed by a successful career in the saddle in England, was highlighted by his Triple Crown win aboard Affirmed in 1978.

Steve Cauthen had a pretty famous jockey agent as far as jockey agent fame goes. While nobody off the racetrack would call Lenny Goodman a house hold name, anyone familiar with or around New York racing in the 60’s 70’s or 80’s would. Lenny was a Damon Runyon type agent and race track character. You’d see him every day with his blazer, unbuttoned shirt, no tie and signature cigar at whatever NYRA track was running. He was there from the wee hours of the morning until the last race on the card. He was known as an ace handicapper and top agent akin to maybe Ron Anderson today. While Lenny handled the books of riders like Bill Hartack, John Rotz, Bobby Ussery and Braulio Baeza, all top veterans his handling of ‘The Kid’ Steve Cauthen probably brought him the bulk of his race track lore and fame.

Under Lenny’s handling and guidance Cauthen not only one a Triple Crown on Affirmed but would regularly win 3,4, and 5 races on the ultra competitive New York racing cards daily. I can’t say for sure it was departing from new York or leaving Lenny for California, or issues with weight but what we do know is things changed out west for Cauthen. He went on one of the worst losing streaks I have ever seen a top rider endure. If memory serves correct, and the beauty of writing your own column is the luxury of being able to go off memory as opposed to looking things up, I think Cauthen went about 100-115 races without a win. To his credit Steve Cauthen left for England to ride first call for top stable Robert Sangster enjoying enormous success including many wins at Royal Ascot.

After Cauthen Lenny became known for developing and finding top apprentice riders. One of those was none other than Wesley Ward who did very well while he had the bug in New York winning many races for the late Oscar Barrera. Oscar was the brother of Laz Barrera for whom Cauthen won The Triple Crown on Affirmed. Eventually Ward’s size prompted him to turn to training where he developed a knack with two-year-olds and speed horses. he pioneered sending American horses to Royal Ascot using his niche with speed in young horses to take advantage of some of the UK sprinters who focus on a different style of racing.

Today in the 6th at Gulfstream Park things come full circle as Ward saddles one, Holding the Line for Cauthen. Whether or not this is a horse bound for Royal Ascot or even fast and classy enough to be considered remains to be seen. The word on the street is the Ward entry in the otjer two-year-old stake, the one for the fillies, Ocean Mermaid (GB) is the one they like. We all know how wrong ‘they’ can be. This just may or may not be an updated story. Either way it is a pretty cool full circle.

Photo: Wesley Ward, Keeneland Photo

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Jon Stettin

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