Watch: new Nunthorpe favourite Golden Pal sets up York bid with impressive win
Golden Pal fired a warning shot to Battaash and his other potential Nunthorpe rivals when showing blistering speed on his comeback in the Grade 3 Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday.
Racing for the first time since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last November, Golden Pal breezed through the 5½f contest from the front before accelerating impressively in the home straight to score by three lengths as the 1-5 favourite.
The Wesley Ward-trained colt carried the Coolmore silks for the first time and could head to York next month for a race his new owners sponsor.
Golden Pal, second in last year's Norfolk Stakes, is favourite in places for the Group 1 Nunthorpe but is generally priced at 4-1 – the same odds as the hat-trick-seeking Battaash.
In the build-up to the turf race, Ward described Golden Pal as potentially the best horse he has trained and he was pleased with the manner of victory under Irad Ortiz Jr.
"He's so extremely talented and quick," said the trainer. "He's a big horse and he moves like a cat, and that's where he really has an advantage.
"I was a little concerned going into the race that I didn't have a lot of gate work into him, but he's so smart that he overcame that in the first jump. When they said 'go,' he was gone."
Ward is already looking towards the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar in November for Golden Pal, who had his seasonal return delayed after requiring surgery on a chipped ankle.
Read more international stories:
Watch live races through the Racing Post. Log in to your bookmaker account and look on the racecards for eligible races. Click the red 'Watch live now' icon and they're off! Find out how here