FORT ERIE – When it comes to horse racing, quality will trump quantity every time.
A small but talented field of seven will assemble Tuesday evening at Fort Erie Race Track for the 80th edition of the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes. The field includes four of the top five finishers from the Queen’s Plate and several new challengers seeking the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown.
The 1 3/16-mile race will go to post at 7:40 p.m. on a nine-race card at the border oval. First post at Fort Erie to kick off the card is at a special time of 4 p.m.
Plate winner Shaman Ghost (7-5) is the slim morning-line favorite over his main challenger, Danish Dynaformer (9-5), who was passed in deep stretch by the son of Ghostzapper in Canada’s most famous race on July 5 at Woodbine. Rafael Hernandez will once again have the mount on Shaman Ghost and has ridden him to four consecutive wins.
Trainer Brian Lynch told an “At The Races” radio show audience that should Shaman Ghost win the Prince of Wales, he’ll probably point toward a graded stake at Saratoga rather than attempt to complete the Canadian Triple Crown. The final leg, the Breeders’ Stakes, is scheduled for Aug. 15 on the turf at Woodbine.
This is the first time since 2010 that the Plate winner has shipped down the Queen Elizabeth Way to Fort Erie and entered the second jewel. Big Red Mike finished third to Lynch’s Golden Moka in the 2010 Prince of Wales as a heavy favorite.
Of the seven horses entered, only Shaman Ghost has won on dirt, winning races at Gulfstream and Keeneland in the States. He’ll look for another patient trip in the Wales, which likely will not have the hot pace scenario that was set in the Plate.
Lynch also will have the benefit of a fresh horse as Shaman Ghost skipped the Plate Trial after winning the Marine Stakes, going unraced for seven weeks leading up to the Queen’s Plate.
“We have a fresh tank for Prince of Wales,” Lynch said after the Plate win.
My Plate selection, Conquest Boogaloo (4-1), found trouble for the third straight race and should savor the smaller field for trainer Mark Casse.
“He still has to prove that he can run on dirt, but most Scat Daddy’s handle the dirt well.
“He came out of the Plate well and had a nice, easy work, didn’t go very fast, by design,” Casse said.
Casse decided to make a rider change from Alan Garcia to Shaun Bridgmohan, hoping a switch will result in a cleaner trip and better karma for his unlucky colt.
Casse also entered Field of Courage (8-1), a son of Marchfield, whom he held out of the Plate to point to the Prince of Wales after a fifth-place finish in the Plate Trial in June.
“He has worked extremely well on the dirt track at Woodbine three times now,” said Casse. “His father only ran once or twice on the dirt, but his grandsire is A.P. Indy.”
There does not appear to be much speed in the race other than a newcomer to the trail, Cut to the Chase (15-1). Casse hinted that jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva will have Field of Courage close to the pace, something that favors horses at Fort Erie.
“Being up close is not such a bad thing at Fort Erie,” said Casse. “Eurico is good for this horse as he tends to ride on the aggressive side.”
Last year, da Silva claimed the first Prince of Wales of his career aboard Coltimus Prime.
Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield will be seeking his sixth win in the second jewel, his first coming in 1976 and his last coming in 2005. He will send out Plate Trial winner Danish Dynaformer, the son of Dynaformer out of a Danehill mare, for his third head-to-head matchup with Shaman Ghost.
Attfield hopes the third time is a charm and that he gets a better ride from Patrick Husbands.
“He went too soon” in the Queen’s Plate, “but that’s race-day luck and Shaman Ghost closed on them,” Attfield said.
Danish Dyaformer also came out of the Plate in good order and according to Attfield is ready to roll on Tuesday night.
“He’s been tearing the place down and in very good shape,” Attfield said.
With not a lot of pace in the race, it won’t favor the closers as much as in the Plate. Look for the jockey change on Boogaloo to make a difference and an improved effort from Danish Dynaformer.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Conquest Boogaloo; 2 – Danish Dynaformer; 3 – Shaman Ghost; and 4 – Field of Courage
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.