07/20/2006 11:00PM

Better luck all 'Prince' needs to win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sophia's Prince, Woodbine's 6 1/2-furlong record holder on the main track, hasn't had much luck on the turf, even though he has banked $140,856 over that surface. He will try to turn his fortunes around at seven furlongs on the grass in Sunday's $75,000 Ontario Jockey Club Stakes.

Sophia's Prince seemed poised to hit the board at the top of the stretch in last year's Grade 1 Atto Mile, only to flip his palate and fade. He got cut off on the backstretch of the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap in October, but came charging wide to finish a close second.

A month ago in the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes, Sophia's Prince was checked by jockey Simon Husbands, before rallying along the inside to finish a length back in third.

Trainer John LeBlanc Jr. said he felt Sophia's Prince ran one of his better races in the six-furlong Highlander.

"He was sitting in a nice position down on the inside," LeBlanc said. "Coming around the turn, Simon said the outside horse squeezed the horse to his inside, who interfered with our horse. He ended up having to check hard, and pulled himself right back to last. As soon as he got his legs back under him again, he took off and made a huge run at the leaders. He just ran out of ground."

LeBlanc said he believes Sophia's Prince prefers the grass over the dirt now.

"He's not training like he used to on the dirt," LeBlanc said. "As soon as he steps on the turf, Simon says he's a totally different horse. He's happy again."

The OJC, for Ontario-breds, has lured just five others, including Marco Be Good and Awesome Action.

Marco Be Good capped a three-race win streak when he took the Highlander at 12-1, which was his first victory on the turf. Trainer John Ross said he considered scratching Marco Be Good from the race.

"We were debating whether we should keep him in or take him out," Ross said. "We never had a chance to run him on a good, firm turf. I think that was part of the reason we wanted to give him a chance. We made the right decision."

Awesome Action captured last year's OJC in an upset over Soaring Free. Awesome Action finished fourth in both of his starts this year, including the Highlander, and might be poised for a peak effort third time off the sidelines.