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Oh Canada: Capturing The Prince of Wales

Code West Uncaptured 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

For the third straight year, the Queen's Plate winner will not participate in the Prince Of Wales Stakes. MIDNIGHT ARIA, who wired the field in winning the 154th edition of Canada's most prestigious race last month, will not be entered in the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown at Fort Erie on Tuesday, July 30th. Trainer Nick Gonzalez stated that his Plate winner, who has been in steady training and racing since January, is doing well, but hasn't fully recovered from his half-length victory at Woodbine on July 7th. So, for the welfare of the horse, who would not be 100 percent ready for the Prince Of Wales, connections of Midnight Aria made the decision not to run. For different reasons, 2011 Plate winner, Inglorious, and last year's winner, Strait Of Dover, were not sent to compete in Fort Erie's showcase race. However, Gonzalez will not be without representation in the Prince Of Wales, the longtime Fort Erie-based trainer will saddle RIVER SEVEN. The 3-year old is looking to improve off a tenth-place finish in the Plate. Much of the shine for the 78th running has been dulled with the absence of the Plate winner, but the 1 3/16-mile event will still possess a bit of luster as last year's Canadian 2-year old champ, UNCAPTURED, from the barn of prominent leading Woodbine trainer, Mark Casse, has made the trip down to the beautiful border oval, and has been installed as the morning line choice. In addition to juvenile honors, the colt was recognized with a Sovereign Award as 2012 Horse-Of-The Year. The 5-time stakes winner is one of a quartet of horses in the race for Casse, who is responsible for half of the entries, and won the 2009 edition with Gallant and last year's running with the filly, Dixie Strike. Five returnees from the Plate, and three newcomers make up the eight horse field that will compete over the Fort Erie dirt surface for a purse of $500,000. Let's take a look from the rail out.


1-UNCAPTURED/Mena/Casse--After finishing out his award winning juvenile campaign winning six of seven starts, the marquee name in the P.O.W.seeks his first win as a 3-yr old after four starts. Was briefly on the Kentucky Derby trail before a dismal 10th-place finish in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes ended the plan. Has raced exceptionally well over dirt. A narrowly beaten runner-up finish last out, to go along two victories (All at Churchill Downs). Was considered for the G1 Haskell Invitational, but was diverted to this race to strut his stuff against what appears to be easier prey.


2-DYNAMIC SKY/Rosario/Casse--This marks his 12th start and all of them have come in stakes races. Like his stablemate above, this colt was on the Kentucky Derby trail early in the year, but once that campaign failed to generate enough qualifying points, connections regrouped and pointed the horse toward the Queen's Plate, where he finished 3rd after challenging on the far turn. A slight cut back in distance should help, as well as retaining his top-notch rider.


3-SPRING IN THE AIR/Boulanger/Casse--This gal made a nice run from far back in the Plate, but couldn't sustain it late and finished fourth. Two back in the Woodbine Oaks, she came rolling down the center of the Woodbine strip with every opportunity to win, but came up three-quarters of a length short. Reigning 2-year old champion Canadian filly is the lone G1 winner (Alcibiades) in the field, accomplishing the feat last season in Kentucky. Only dirt miscue was a troubled fifth in 2012 Breeders' Cup. Solid player


4-RACKMAN/McAleney/Nosowenko--Finally broke his maiden in his ninth start, then was thrown into the Plate where he stalked the pace to the far turn before tiring badly to finish last. Didn't belong in the first leg of the series and will find this similar group in the second leg just as tough as he makes his dirt debut.


5-RIVER SEVEN/Da Silva/Gonzalez--Endured a wide trip from an extreme outside post against an inside bias in the Plate, which caused this colt to pack it in on the far turn. Had excuses 2 and 3 races back: Bad stumble and 7-month hiatus, respectively. As a juvenile, this one knocked off Uncaptured in the G3 Grey Stakes. Appears ready for his first test over dirt. Will be very dangerous if  "excuse free.'


6- JAGGER M/Bridgmohan/Casse--Even with a fifth-place finish in the Plate, where he beat more than half the field, this colt was still well beaten by eleven lengths. His overall record indicates he's better suited around 1-turn, as he's been blanked in three route attempts.


7-NIIGON'S GLORY/Bahen/Halden--Did not participate in the Plate. He's failed against Ontario-bred allowance horse as the betting favorite in recent starts, but enters with a couple of sharp 4 furlong works since his last effort and the addition of blinkers, so will he improve? Is in a tough spot in his first dirt attempt.


8-POWER PHIL/Contreras/Tiller--Another newcomer to the race that transfers to the dirt. Has also been beaten by weaker opponents in his last two as the public's choice. To his credit, this guy has never finished out of the money in eight starts, including three stakes races. That streak is in jeopardy of getting halted.




It's truly difficult to go past UNCAPTURED as the projected Prince Of Wales winner. He was barely denied in losing the G3 Matt Winn Stakes, and his speed figure from that event is tops in this field. He possesses a class advantage over his rivals and his high early speed will put him close to the front end in a tracking position which should allow the runner to be comfortable with what I expect to be a moderate pace. My race scenario has him following the leader, who on paper appears to be Power Phil, until the second call and then be given his cue to go on. He should have enough left late in the race to hold off any closing challenges. DYNAMIC SKY and SPRING IN THE AIR are classy runners who have both competed against some of the best horses in the U.S. and Canada. Their back speed figures fit nicely here and either could win this just on that primary factor alone. However, the duo are late-running types, and it's hard to win races lately at Fort Erie going a route of ground. The track has nearly a 75% bias toward early runners going two turns. Both horses would need to be closer to the pace, which may hinder their closing kicks, or a pace meltdown to boost their chances, and the latter is highly unlikely to develop given the way the race should unfold. RIVER SEVEN, who put the only blemish on Uncaptured's juvenile record, had solid 2-year old form himself, but has had legitimate excuses since beginning his 3-year old season. He'll need to run a bit faster in the speed figure department to challenge, but this lightly raced, still developing young horse should be able to easily muster the slight improvement he needs to contend. He has a big race in him waiting to come out, and that race could very well be showcased in front of the Fort Erie crowd for his home-based trainer. 


It will be a monumental upset if the winner of the Prince Of Wales comes from outside the four listed. Play this event any way you desire. Good luck, and as always, enjoy the race! 


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Older Comments about Oh Canada: Capturing The Prince of Wales...

Only ones close now : 1 Uncaptured 6 Jagger M 8 Power Phil
until very recently Gonzales had all his horses at the border oval.
Post at 7:47 PM, am staying home for sure.
Vic you can't knock Nick for keeping his plate winner home. The horse wasn't ready to go. I tip my hat to him for that, and putting health over greed.
Pitiful field and I may stay home as a result.
These contests, USUALLY not on a Tuesday, are usually favorites affairs
Uncaptured is my pick, too. I really like Dynamic Sky, but the speed bias doesn't lie.
I agree if Uncaptured runs back to his Matt Winn, he is likely to end up in the winner's circle of Canada's middle leg.

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Hi, my name is Nick Costa a.k.a. Trackman. As for my "nickname" of Trackman, it came about the following way: When people, either friends or family would inquire as to where I was going, my reply was always the same, "I'm going to the track man." I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, about a 30 minute drive from the racetrack, in Fort Erie, Canada.  I was five years old the first time I attended the races. My father, who was a regular at the track, took me to Fort Erie. My first recollections were of just running up and down the stairs to and from our grandstand seats and the walking ring. Of course, after viewing the horses, I would run back up the stairs, and tell my father who to bet. He would look at me quizzically, and then proceed to place a $2 dollar wager on my selection for me. Through the years, with continuous trips to Fort Erie, and also to Woodbine and the now defunct Greenwood, my father would take the time to explain all the information in the Daily Racing Form. After I learned the basics of handicapping, I never met a racing Form I didn't like. If I had spent as much time on my studies as I did reading the Form, I probably could be sitting on the Supreme Court. Those early horse playing days have  lasted into my adulthood, as I still play the races today on a regular basis. But now I have added a couple of new dimensions. First, I officially became a licensed thoroughbred race horse owner back in 2000, fulfilling a dream come true. Fort Erie, where I mostly play the races and race my horses, is still my favorite track. It's my home track, where I fell in love with everything about the sport. In addition to the tracks mentioned that I visited with my father, I have graced the grounds of Churchill
Downs (Derby 134 and several Breeders' Cups), Saratoga, Mountaineer, Gulfstream Park, Sam Houston Race Track, Presque Isle, Monmouth Park and Belmont Park. Second, I started to write a few years ago when I started my own blog, called Triple Crown Chase.

The blog was established to provide some personal insight about the horses and trainers who compete against one another in the 3 yr old prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. I preview and review the preps races and extend coverage to include the Preakness and Belmont. Last year, my blog previewed the Canadian Triple Crown races for the first time. The second leg, The Prince Of Wales Stakes, is run at my home track of Fort Erie. I am honored and thrilled to be on board with Horse Racing Nation and I want to thank everyone for their support.

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