A competitive field of eight will visit Fort Erie Race Track on Tuesday evening looking to secure the second jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown.
There will be no Canadian Triple Crown looming for 2021, as Queen’s Plate winner Safe Conduct is skipping the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes to focus on the final leg on the turf at Woodbine. It will be only the second time in the last seven years the Plate winner has passed on running in the second leg.
Tuesday’s race is the only one in the series run over a dirt surface and will be contested over 1 3/16 miles.
Trainer Kevin Attard will send three horses to the gate, including 5-2 favorite H C Holiday, the third-place finisher in the Plate. Jockey Luis Contreras will be looking for his fourth Prince of Wales victory.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, who for the second year in a row did not run a horse in the Plate, sends his filly, Curlin’s Catch, to post. Casse has won the second leg four times, his last in 2018 with another filly, Wonder Gadot.
First post at the border oval will be at 1 p.m. The 86th running of the Prince of Wales is scheduled to go to post at 5:35 p.m., just across the Peace Bridge. The Prince of Wales will be contested in front of a limited number of spectators after being run without fans for the first time in its storied history in 2020.
The Breeders’ Stakes, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, is scheduled for Oct. 3 over the E.P. Taylor turf course at Woodbine.
Let’s take a look at the field from top to bottom (post position, trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parenthesis, Race 10, post time is 5:35 p.m.):
1 – Avoman (MacRae, Gallardo, 7-2). The Plate Trial winner ran a sneaky good Plate to finish sixth, but was less than three lengths from the winner and he encountered some traffic in the stretch that might have doomed his chances as he was advancing from the back of the pack. The downside is the son of Old Forester has not run on the dirt and without a workout at the Fort, he is a question mark.
2 – Tidal Forces (Cox, Wilson, 15-1). Neither of the connections has won the Prince of Wales, and they enter the son of Malibu Moon after a ninth-place finish in the Plate. Gail Cox puts blinkers on the bay colt, which could sharpen his focus. Another who has never run on the dirt for Sam-Son Farm that will likely be up against it against horses that have beaten him soundly in the past. One edge he has would be on an off track based on his pedigree and early running style.
3 – Curlin’s Catch (Casse, Husbands, 9-2). Top-flight connections that include the last jockey to pull off the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003 when Patrick Husbands accomplished the feat aboard Wando. Only horse in the field that has run on the dirt, competing in the U.S. earlier in the year. Won non-graded stake at Tampa and returns to dirt after two efforts over the Tapeta at Woodbine. Another who should thrive if it comes up sloppy as the daughter of Curlin. Dangerous.
4 – Haddassah (K. Attard, Boulanger, 12-1). With not a lot of pace in the race, he could be lone speed. If they’re not careful, the gelding could run away with it at a price. Son of Air Force Blue was less than four lengths from Safe Conduct at the Plate finish after being rank earlier in the race. Worked well over the Fort Erie surface on Sept. 7, which bodes well for the least likely of Attard’s three chances. Sneaky contender.
5 – H C Holiday (K. Attard, Contreras, 5-2). Attard was pleased with his last two workouts, one on the Woodbine dirt training track and a bullet work at the Fort. If not for the traffic issues encountered early in the Plate, he could easily be looking to continue a Triple Crown chance. Formidable favorite, but could be compromised with based on his late-running style with the shorter distance (1/16th of a mile) and lack of pace in the race. The one to beat.
6 – Ready At Dawn (Ezra, Buchanan, 30-1). Longest shot in the field is trained by longtime local trainer Daryl Ezra, who knows a thing or two about Fort Erie. Comes off an impressive maiden breaker sprint on the turf. Big jump in class for the gelded son of More Than Ready. Was beaten badly in both efforts against Plate horses earlier in his career. Would be a great story, but tough to see it unfolding.
7 – Harlan Estate (K. Attard, Kimura, 6-1). My Plate pick who loomed in the stretch and ran out of gas surprised Attard with a great workout at the Fort. Not a morning horse, he showed he can handle the Fort Erie dirt and shouldn’t be discounted. Has red-hot jockey Kazushi Kimura, who is on a heater, winning nine of his last 32 races. On the fence whether to jump ship.
8 – Keep Grinding (T. Attard, Hernandez, 3-1). Thought he was going to breeze by the Plate winner when he made his approach at the sixteenth pole, but was thwarted and held on for fifth. Son of Tizway matched Harlan Estate’s bullet work Sept. 7, showing he can handle the Fort Erie dirt. Might thrive over the shorter distance, and with the lack of pace, look for him to be closer to the lead early on. The pick.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Keep Grinding; 2 – Harlan Estate; 3 – Curlin’s Catch; 4 – Haddassah
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.
86th running of $400K Prince of Wales - Post Positions
Curlin's Catch (f)
H C Holiday
Ready At Dawn
Fort Erie Race Track
1 3/16-miles Dirt