On a gorgeous Southern Ontario evening at Fort Erie Race Track, Breaking Lucky won the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. In 2010 his father Lookin at Lucky won the Preakness, the second leg of the American Triple Crown, both races are run at 1 3/16-miles on dirt.
Breaking Lucky at odds of 13-1 ran down the outside lane and held off a charging Shaman Ghost by a neck at the wire in the 80th running of the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes Tuesday evening at the historic border oval. The winner is owned by Gunpowder Farms, LLC.
He finished the trek in 1:56.59. Breaking Lucky returned $28.10 to win, $8.30 to place and $5.90 for show. The Queen’s Plate winner and post time favorite Shaman Ghost paid $2.30 to place and $2.40 to show. Field of Courage completed the trifecta and returned $6.50 for his third-place finish. The winner earned $300,000.
The win was the first in the Prince of Wales for both trainer Reade Baker and jockey James McAleney. Breaking Lucky finished a decent fifth in the Queen’s Plate and had run only once on dirt in his previous five races, his first race in March at Gulfstream Park.
McAleney credited Baker with having him ready for this race by running him where he took dirt in his face during his first career race in Florida. “Going into the first turn we got a lot of dirt in our face today, because of the previous experience, he managed it very well.”
The 45-year old jockey didn’t have a problem upsetting Shaman Ghost’s attempt to claim the first two Triple Crown races north of the border. “It’s huge. It will go down as one of my all-time favorite races. I’d never want to be a rider that disrupted the third leg of a Triple Crown, but the second leg is fair game,” he joked.
Baker, a man of few words, was glowing in the post-race press conference about his jockey’s ride and how the track played all afternoon. “He proved that he can ride today,” said Baker. “It was a very fair racetrack today, you just have to have the best horse, and today we had the best horse.”
It was the first Canadian Classic victory for the longtime trainer.
Shaman Ghost made every effort to win his third career race on dirt, but came up a neck short in his bid to become the first horse since Triple Crown winner Wando in 2003 to claim the first two legs. Coming into the race, he had won four straight.
Jockey Rafael Hernandez and Shaman Ghost needed just a little more track on Tuesday. “We broke well and into the first turn was okay. We got in trouble on the backside. They were keeping me inside so I just sat there and waited for the hole. He was running great, but he couldn’t run through the wall in front of me and still almost got to the winner. One more jump and I got it,” said Hernandez.
The Plate winner was the one horse that McAleney feared was on his tail. “I had a clear outside trip coming down the lane so I opted for the outside. I knew Shaman Ghost was down in there looking for room and I knew once he got through that he’d come running. I knew he was there,” said McAleney.
He used some of his veteran jockey experience in holding off the son of Ghostzapper, after passing third-place finisher Field of Courage in the stretch. “Even though I had the horses near me beaten at the eighth pole, I knew it wasn’t over. I actually brought my horse down in a little bit just in case he come on stronger, just to allow Breaking Lucky to see him in case he got close to us,” said McAleney.
Field of Courage ran a big race finishing third, actually taking the lead in the stretch before giving way to the top two. Jockey Eurico da Silva, an aggressive rider, as expected had him close to the front for most of the race and spurted ahead of the field for a brief instance.
The beaten jock had nothing but kind words for the winner. “My horse when he turned for home, he was just a little bit green, that’s why I got beat today. The winner is a good horse and they deserved to win,” said da Silva.
Betting handle was $1,570,000, down from the 2014 total of $1,768,000, however on-track handle was up 1.76 percent over last year, evidenced by the big crowd on hand enjoying the twilight card.
Breaking Lucky’s next effort will likely be in the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown in the Breeders’ Stakes on turf in August.
One thing we know for certain is that second jewels run in the family.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.