06/20/2002 11:00PM

Anglian Prince took long road to Plate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There's no disputing the fact that Anglian Prince is a deserving candidate for Sunday's Queen's Plate.

His best effort, a scintillating performance in the Marine Stakes at Woodbine, probably would be more than enough to make him the king of the Plate lineup.

But in view of his schedule this spring, will Anglian Prince be on the upswing or downswing Sunday?

Anglian Prince, trained by 75-year-old Mort Hardy for 82-year-old Len Prussky, certainly has not taken the path of least resistance on his way to this year's Queen's Plate.

In fact, Anglian Prince hit the first five stakes stepping-stones to the Plate, beginning with his seventh-place finish in the six-furlong Achievement here March 31 and ending with his third-place run in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial June 1.

In the spaces between those stakes, Anglian Prince ran second in the six-furlong Woodstock on April 20, fourth in the seven-furlong Queenston May 4, and won the 1 1/16-mile Marine on May 18.

The only prep he passed was the Victoria Park, at 1 1/8 miles here June 8, but he then turned in the longest major workout of any Plate entrant when going one mile in 1:41.20 here last Saturday.

But regardless of what may transpire Sunday - and Hardy believes the outcome for Anglian Prince will be of a positive nature - the trainer wouldn't have done it any other way.

"With the schedule for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, you can't run too much if you stay with the stakes horses," said Hardy, who has been on the racetrack for 50 years and is in the midst of his 40th season as a trainer. "A horse wants to be damn fit going a mile and a quarter.

"Some horses can do it, some can't. He shows that he wants to go that far."

Anglian Prince was an $8,200 yearling purchase at the open (as opposed to selected) yearling sale here, with Prussky signing the ticket under his nom du course, Prime Acres Inc. Anglian Prince was gelded in the spring of his 2-year-old year.

After disappointing when he debuted here last September in maiden special weight company, Anglian Prince made his next three starts in the claiming ranks, winning for the first time when he was dropped in for $25,000 on Oct. 25.

But he showed significant improvement when moving out around two turns for his last two starts of the campaign, finishing third and then winning in first-level allowance company.

"He looked pretty impressive going long," said Hardy. "We always thought he wanted to go long, and we were right. I thought then that he was a legitimate Plate horse."

Anglian Prince spent his off-season in Ontario and began gearing up on the farm in mid-January before returning to the racetrack Feb. 8.

And while Anglian Prince's effort in the Achievement served little notice of what was to come, Hardy believes his charge may have had a legitimate excuse.

"His first race was very disappointing," said Hardy. "We felt, but we had no proof, that he may have got his tongue over the bit on post parade.

"The next time we put the tongue strap on him, and he really hasn't run a bad race since. He's improved and improved and improved."

Nowhere was Anglian Prince's improvement more dramatic than in the Marine.

Upsetting the talented Kentucky-bred Tails of the Crypt, who went on to romp here in the Victoria Park, and the previously undefeated Ford Every Stream, who will be looking to turn the tables in the Plate, Anglian Prince earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101, up 23 points from his previous try.

And while Anglian Prince regressed to a Beyer of 87 for his Trial effort, where he was beaten a length behind Plate favorites Shaws Creek and Classic Mike, Hardy does not believe the frequency of his appearances had anything to do with the defeat.

"It might have been a different race had be been able to get off the fence," said Hardy. "It was a little bit dull that day, down there."

Such worries are unlikely to come into play Sunday, as the rail probably will be little more than a rumor for jockey Jim McAleney, who will break Anglian Prince from post 13 .

"He's coming to his race as good as he can come to it," concluded Hardy. "His potential will be there, he's fit - there'll be no excuses."

Queen's Plate equipment changes

Changes in equipment for three of the 14 Plate entrants were announced Friday.

Ford Every Stream, who will be one of the favorites and is expected to run close to the Plate pace, will race with blinkers for the first time, while Forever Grand goes with blinkers off.

The Plate will be just the fourth start for Ford Every Stream, who is trained by Mark Frostad.

"They're just to get him a little more focused," said Frostad.

Forever Grand, coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park, is the probable speed of the Plate lineup.

"It's not a huge change," said Bob Tiller, who trains Forever Grand, "because he always worn 'cheaters' anyway, which is a limited blinker.

Barbeau Ruckus raced without blinkers for the first time since his debut last July when finishing third in the Victoria Park, which was his 10th career start.

Ross Armata, who trains Barbeau Ruckus, felt the gelding lacked focus before and during the running and has abandoned the experiment.