FORT ERIE, Ont. -- The queen of the local horse population will be crowned Sunday when the Fort Erie Race Track kicks off its 2007 stakes program with the $25,000 Slots Cup for fillies and mares.
The Canada Day feature has attracted seven runners, including four with recent victories at a mile and 70 yards, 40 yards shorter than the Cup's 1 1/1 6-mile distance. The race is restricted to horses with at least two starts at Fort Erie this year.
Marden Hill, ridden by David Piques for trainer Brian Ross, drew the rail and is rated the 5-2 morning line favorite by linesmaker Jerry Davis.
The 5-year-old is coming off a narrow defeat on the grass after scoring her first win of the season in the mud on the main track. Winner of last September's $30,000 Coca-Cola Cup, she has never finished worse than second in five starts at the Fort.
The race contains four last-out winners: Getmovinshoes (7-2, ridden by Marty Mercieca), True Reality (4-1, Regina Sealock), Cent T Mint (8-1, Dale Hemsley) and Chan Ja Bang (8-1, Cory Clark). Two entrants that have not won here yet this year -- Speed Storm (3-1, Mike Quong) and Sockhopper (8-1, Kris Robinson) -- round out the field.
The Slots Cup, the first of 13 stakes races at the Fort this year, is the eighth event on a 10-race card starting at 1:05 p.m. Eight other $25,000 "Cup" races restricted to horses with a certain number of starts at the track will be run in 2007.
Sunday's promotions include $1 hot dogs and soft drinks and live music.
In harness racing, Buffalo Raceway starts the first of four Sunday matinees with a 12-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m.
The feature race is a $6,000 pace where Tarot Hanover (5-2, driven by Kevin Cummings) and My Buddy Bob (3-1, J.D. Perrin) are the expected favorites.
The Hamburg oval also will host an Independence Day card at 5 p.m. Wednesday but will hold its traditional fireworks display after Saturday's races, which start at 6:30 p.m.