Wesley Ward didn't hesitate when asked about his horse who changed everything.
"Unfinished Symph," Ward said, a week before his annual assault on Royal Ascot. "He was awesome."
Three years into his training career, Ward paid $13,500 for the Maryland-bred son of Aloha Prospector at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in April, 1993.
He changed everything.
"You always need something to get you out of wherever you are," Ward said. "He had big bucked shins, they were almost fractured shins. I bought him because it was a price I could afford. He was a monster. And I didn't even know what I was doing, if I had him today, I'm sure he would be a Royal Ascot winner."
Ward knows about those. The former Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey won his first race at Royal Ascot in 2009 and has been a force on the world's biggest stage ever since. Ward credited Unfinished Symph for the start.
"He opened my eyes," Ward said. "I got some backing because of him. He was an amazing horse."
Unfinished Symph made his debut for a $32,000 claiming tag before winning six races, including the Will Rogers Handicap, the Cinema Handicap, the San Francisco Mile, the Shoemaker Handicap and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Mile in 1994. He pulled up in his final start, the Arcadia Handicap in 1997.
"It was all the horse. I was trying to space out his races, that's all I did for him, everything else was all him," Ward said. "He taught me a real love of a true champion horse. No matter what, he was going to try to get there first. He taught me patience, when they say a horse gave 110 percent. He gave 110 percent. You could see it."
Ward remembered seeing the transformation on the way to the paddock.
"Just an amazing horse," Ward said. "If you took a string and measured from the top of his withers around his girth, by the time you led him over to the paddock, when he was kind of bouncing, if you took that same string, it wouldn't fit. He would just blow up."