Canada Triple Crown: 2 ways to beat Prince of Wales favorite

Canada Triple Crown: 2 ways to beat Prince of Wales favorite
Photo: Michael Burns Photo

Given all seven 3-year-old horses in the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie later Tuesday lack dirt experience, no one can blame any handicapper for skipping the race. But the ability to examine pedigree in terms of handling dirt remains an option for bettors intent on playing this race.

The morning-line favorite is Sir for Sure, who enters off a distant third-place finish in the Queen’s Plate over synthetic at Woodbine. He lost by nine lengths. Before that race, he won the Plate Trial Stakes by two lengths.

Sir for Sure shows heavy turf pedigree with Sligo Bay, a son of the great turf sire Sadler’s Wells, as his sire. On the bottom side, Sligo Bay’s damsire won on turf twice out of three lifetime starts before retiring early. Even though Sir for Sure has been competing on synthetic, true turf horses generally handle synthetic racing better than dirt horses. 

The favorite looks beatable if any of the other contenders move up on dirt.

Ironstone shows the best dirt pedigree in the field as a son of Mr Speaker out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Casey’s Dreamin’. Mr Speaker's dam line extends to the legendary dirt router Personal Ensign, whose family tends to follow in her footsteps by excelling mainly on dirt.

On the bottom side, Ironstone’s dam line extends to Big Dreams, the dam of Housebuster. Ironstone’s second dam Dreamscape also is a full sister to Housebuster.

During his time, Housebuster was a well-regarded and feared sprinter or miler who won races such as the 1990 Jerome Handicap (G1), 1991 Carter Handicap (G1) and 1991 Vosburgh Stakes (G1). From November 1989 to May 1990, Housebuster put together an eight-race win streak before finishing second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) as only a 3-year-old.

Ironstone runs like he wants a dirt sprint or mile. In the Marine Stakes (G3) in July, Ironstone initially ran off from the field with a four-length lead. He fought the jockey before eventually getting tugged back closer to the other horses. After continuing to set the pace, Ironstone faded to third in the stretch.

Then in the Queen’s Plate, Ironstone was eager to go early, but he grudgingly sat off the speedy pacesetter The Minkster. Then, Ironstone briefly took the lead on the far turn, but the early pace took its toll. Ironstone had no answer as the filly Moira engulfed the field from behind to an impressive win. Hall of Dreams and Sir for Sure went by as well to pick up second and third over the fading Ironstone in fourth. 

Can Ironstone go 1 3/16 miles on dirt? Against this field, probably. The pace scenario works in his favor as TimeformUS Pace Projector shows Ironstone loose on the lead through a slow pace scenario.

In the long run, the connections might want to consider moving Ironstone to a different circuit and running this horse in dirt sprints or miles.

For value bettors who want higher odds, Duke of Love is probably the right horse. He could also work as the second horse in an exacta with Ironstone.

Duke of Love’s sire Cupid is a son of the great Tapit. Although Tapit sires turf winners too, more often than not his good progeny are dirt horses. Cupid won the 2017 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) as his career highlight. His leading money earner this year is Desert Dawn, who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks and second in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1).

On the bottom side, Duke of Love shows mostly turf influences. But the Cupid side of him could even those influences out and make the dirt surface okay for him to compete on. Even with the turf-oriented dam line, Duke of Love’s damsire is Smart Strike, which is another plus for a horse attempting dirt for the first time.

Although Duke of Love faded to eighth in the Queen’s Plate, he did run decent races before that with a fourth-place finish in the Plate Trial and a runner-up effort in the Marine Stakes (G3), where he finished ahead of Ironstone.

At 5-1 on the morning line, Duke of Love is a decent value.

Those are the two alternatives to the favorite Sir for Sure, a horse who likely wants to stick to synthetic or eventually try turf later on. Ironstone owns the pace advantage, but Duke of Love might make it close. Because of the pace advantage, though, Ironstone gets the slight nod.

Win: 2 (at 7-5 or higher)

Exacta box: 1,2

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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