03/03/2008 12:00AM

Fort Erie again sets four stakes


Fort Erie Racetrack, which will reopen its backstretch on March 24, again will offer a streamlined schedule of four stakes at its 2008 meeting, which begins May 3.

The $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown, is the showpiece of the meeting and will be run on July 13.

The Prince of Wales card also will feature the Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial and the Ernie Samuel Memorial, both worth $50,000 and run at five furlongs on the turf. Both are for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and up, the Wells for males and the Samuel for females.

The meet's final stakes, the $125,000 Rainbow Connection, will be run Aug. 17. For Ontario-sired fillies and mares 3 and up, it is also a five-furlong grass race.

Fort Erie will race 80 days this season, a slight decrease from last year's 84.

Tom Gostlin, Fort Erie's racing secretary, said the total purses available will hold firm at approximately $9.1 million.

Gostlin, who doubles as stall superintendent, added that as of Monday he had received some 1,000 stall applications.

"So far, it's not quite as many as last year," said Gostlin.