Updated on 09/15/2011 12:37PM

Fresh face big threat in Prince of Wales

Email

TORONTO, Ontario - In most years, the prospect of a rematch between top two Queen's Plate finishers would be reason enough to look forward to the $350,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.

But Sunday's running of the 1 3/16-mile second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, which features Plate one-two finishers Dancethruthedawn and Win City, also will showcase a very significant new player in Wild Years.

Ordinarily, a horse who made his first career start just two months ago and is fresh off his maiden victory would not be viewed as a serious threat facing the likes of Dancethruthedawn, the blue-blooded daughter of Mr. Prospector and Dance Smartly who had entered Woodbine's 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate off a victory there in the Canadian Oaks; or Win City, who had won three straight stakes preps for the Plate before coming up just shy in the main event.

But there are indications that Wild Years is far more than ordinary, as those who witnessed jockey Richard Migliore guide the colt to a 22 1/4-length win over 1 1/8 miles at Belmont June 29 would attest.

"I don't like to see any horse win by that many," said Jim Bond, who trains Wild Years for Alnoff Stable at his Saratoga base. "But he won very, very easily.

"Richie was just a passenger; he was just trying to hold him down."

By Wild Again out of the Vice Regent mare Lover's Talk, Wild Again was bred in Ontario by Kinghaven Farm but was sold for $300,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. The colt is a half-brother to Torrid Affair, a 4-year-old filly who has won three stakes and $362,329 for Kinghaven and trainer Roger Attfield.

And, in a scenario that is not unusual for a Bond runner, Wild Years did not see action as a 2-year-old.

"He's been with me since January or February of his 2-year-old year," Bond said. "My standard is, with some of these better 3-year-olds, I just kind of wait for them to develop.

"Roger Attfield told me some of the troubles he had had trying to get Torrid Affair ready at 2. The bottom line is he just wasn't mature enough to push on."

Bond, however, had hoped to have Wild Years debut much sooner than May 20, when the colt finished second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special at Belmont.

"We'd actually wanted him to start at Gulfstream," Bond said. "But he grabbed a quarter coming off the track at Payson Park one morning, and I had to put a bar shoe on him.

"It came back to bite us in the second start of his life; he popped a quarter again. Hopefully, it's past us now. We've got it patched, and it looks really good."

Wild Years also finished second in that second outing, over 1 1/8 miles at Belmont June 1, and Bond began making plans to head north for the June 24 Queen's Plate.

Since Wild Years had been reluctant to enter the starting gate for his two appearances, the trainer focused on schooling the colt in the gate leading up to the $1 million Canadian feature.

In fact, Wild Years had been considered a Plate starter until just days before the race, when Bond made a difficult decision.

"I was kind of scared, bringing him in front of as many people as you were going to have on Plate Day," he said.

"I didn't think it was in the best interests of the horse.

"To make a long story short, I told the owners we might have a really exceptional late 3-year-old, early 4-year-old. There's no sense throwing it all away just for one race. Though it was a great race, it's not the end of the world."

Bond has no reservations this time around, after the front-running tour de force by Wild Years in his third and last start.

Wild Years finished the one-turn 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.56 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, compared to Dancethruthedawn's 94 for her Plate win.

"The colt has a lot of talent," said Bond. "We're just hoping he continues on that way. I know he's a good horse."

That's not to say Bond, after watching the Plate, expects the Prince of Wales to be a stroll in the park

"The filly ran a great race, and Win City ran a great race," he said. "Both of them are very much to be respected, and to be worried about. They're both nice horses."

Mark Frostad, who trains Dancethruthedawn, and Bob Tiller, trainer of Win City, are well aware that the presence of Wild Years adds a new dimension to the Prince of Wales picture.

"He looks like a serious horse," said Frostad. "He could be anything."

Frostad sees the newcomer's style as a particularly dangerous commodity at Fort Erie, which can be a speed-oriented racetrack.

"Wild Years is going to have a huge impact," Tiller said.

"As far as fan interest, it's going to make for a great race. It's a guessing game as to who's going to win. It's a very tough race to handicap, in my opinion."