07/13/2012 2:27PM

Fort Erie: Prince of Wales to see rematch between fillies

Michael Burns
Irish Mission, with Alex Solis riding, wins the Woodbine Oaks before finishing second in the Queen's Plate.

FORT ERIE, Ontario – Irish Mission and Dixie Strike, fillies who were the 2-3 finishers in the June  24 Queen’s Plate, will renew their rivalry here Sunday in the $500,000 Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales is the second leg of the triple crown of the Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and will be run over 1 3/16 miles on Fort Erie’s dirt oval.

The Queen’s Plate, run over 1 1/4 miles of Polytrack, and Woodbine’s Aug. 5 Breeders’ Stakes, at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, are the other events triple crown events.

Irish Mission, who is owned by Robert S. Evans and trained by Mark Frostad, had won the June 3 Woodbine Oaks at 1 1/8 miles before finishing a solid second to Strait of Dover in the Queen’s Plate.

And the absence of Queen’s Plate winner Strait of Dover, whose connections passed on the Prince of Wales because of their colt’s demonstrated aversion to dirt, has thrust Irish Mission into the favorite’s role for the Prince of Wales.

“She’s coming along beautifully,” said Frostad. “She’s had a couple of tough races, pretty close together, but that doesn’t seem to have had an impact on her. She’s training well, and eating well.”

Irish Mission has done almost all of her training on Woodbine’s dirt training track since the Queen’s Plate, and her last four breezes have come over that surface.

Alex Solis, who has forged a successful partnership with Irish Mission, will be riding at Fort Erie for the first time in the Prince of Wales.

Dixie Strike also has had a busy schedule of late, as she romped here in the 1 1/16-mile Selene Stakes on May 13, finished a close but disappointing fifth as the odds-on choice in the Woodbine Oaks, and then came from last in the field of 14 to end 3 3/4 lengths behind Irish Mission in the Queen’s Plate.

“Our thoughts are that she’s training better than ever, and that she’s actually coming into this race better than she was for the Queen’s Plate,” said Mark Casse, who trains Dixie Strike for owner John Oxley.

“I think she ran a heck of a race in the Plate, to finish as well as she did, There was definitely a speed bias that day.

“And, she’s always trained extremely well on dirt.”

Patrick Husbands retains the mount on Dixie Strike, who along with Irish Mission will be carrying 121 pounds and getting five pounds from her male rivals.

Colleeen’s Sailor and Ultimate Destiny, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Queen’s Plate, both had their final workouts for the Prince of Wales over Woodbine’s training track.

Trainer Roger Attfield, a five-time winner of the Prince of Wales, is expecting good things from Colleen’s Sailor here Sunday.

“I think he’ll run very well, after the way he handled the dirt in Toronto the other day,” said Attfield, who took over as Colleen’s Sailor’s trainer this winter.

“I think the horse has improved from the Plate until now.”

Corey Nakatani, the only Prince of Wales rider not based at Woodbine, retains the mount on Colleen’s Sailor.

Mike Keogh, who trains Ultimate Destiny, also is optimistic about his charge’s chances.

“He wouldn’t have beat the winner in the Plate, but he did have a tough trip,” said Keogh. “He’s improved in Beyers, every time.

“And, I don’t see why dirt would be a problem. He trains on it at Woodbine, and has worked well on it there and last winter with me in Aiken.”

Steven Bahen retains the mount on Ultimate Destiny.

Classic Bryce, who finished eighth in the Queen’s Plate, also will be here for the Prince of Wales.

“We’ve done a few things differently with him, and we’re hoping they’ll add up to a much better performance,” said Classic Bryce’s trainer, Darwin Banach.

Classic Bryce is the only Prince of Wales contestant with a workout over the surface, as he shipped down last Monday to breeze five furlongs in 1:01 with his regular rider, Todd Kabel, in the irons.

Dead On, is the only Prince of Wales entrant to have raced on dirt, having finished a close second in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles at the Fair Grounds on March 25, but has disappointed in both the seven-furlong Queenston and the Plate Trial since returning to Woodbine.

“He’s had plenty of time to recover from the Plate Trial,” said Malcolm Pierce, who trains the homebred Dead On for Sam-Son Farm. “I’ve trained him a lot on the training track, and he seems to get over the dirt very well.”

Dead On also was gelded after the Plate Trial, and Pierce believes that his charge should be a more focused and better racehorse in his altered state.

“He’s been a little bit of a coconut sometimes,” said Pierce. “He‘s been silly in the paddock, and loud noises seem to scare him.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson, who rode Dead On to his maiden win at Woodbine last September, has been recruited for the Prince of Wales.

Menlo Castle showed little in the Plate Trial and will be making his first start since then for Ralph Biamonte, who also has entered Run in Aruba for the Prince of Wales.

Both geldings were stakes winners at 2 but have yet to put their best feet forward this season.

“We’re going to be the longshots,” said Biamonte, who shipped down for the Prince of Wales on Thursday. “But down here at Fort Erie, anything happens.”

Both geldings were stakes winners at 2 but have yet to put their best feet forward this season.

Completing the field will be Quaesitor, supplemented to the Prince of Wales at a cost of $12,500 after returning from a layoff of almost seven months to win his maiden over 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine on June 30.

Quaesitor arrived at Fort Erie on Wednesday and has trained over the track the last two mornings.

“He seems to have settled in really well,” said Howard.