07/02/2009 12:00AM

Matties regrouping after a difficult year


FORT ERIE, Ontario - It's been a difficult year for trainer Gregg Matties but he now appears to be getting his stable back on track.

Matties, 38, was based in New York for a number of years, but after being denied stalls at Belmont Park in 2008 he decided to move to California for a change of scenery.

Matties was denied stalls at Belmont because of alleged irregular betting patterns in wagering accounts held by the Matties family, which includes Gregg's brothers, Paul and Duke, who have competed in handicapping contests. Details of the irregular betting patterns have never been fully explained.

Leaving New York impacted Matties's business. He moved west on the advice of former Fort Erie trainer Ed Freeman, a friend of Matties who had taken up permanent residence in California.

But Matties still had horses in New York, including some youngsters by the good sire Hook and Ladder, and he decided to return.

"I had to come back and get things in order with a number of runners, including a few 2-year-olds, in the barn," said Matties. "Tom Gostlin, the Fort's racing secretary, was very helpful in arranging some 20 stalls, so back I came from California along with my best companion and exercise rider. Sadly, she departed just after our return and here I was at Fort Erie, on my own, down in the dumps, looking for help and not knowing a soul."

Matties has made a number of friends here this meet, and although his future plans are still somewhat uncertain, he now is enjoying his time here. Coming into Saturday's card, his local record stands at 20 starts and a 3-6-3 record. Through Wednesday at Woodbine, he has sent out six runners, winning one race and finishing second and third once each.

"Things are slowly turning around," he said "The summer and the rest of the year will find me back on board with a positive attitude."

Field of seven expected for Prince of Wales

According to Fort Erie publicist Daryl Wells Jr., a field of about seven is expected for the $500,000 Prince of Wales here July 12, including Queen's Plate one-two finishers Eye of the Leopard and Mr. Foricos Two U. The draw for post positions takes place July 8.

There are 20 nominees for both the $50,000 Ernie Samuel Memorial Stakes and Daryl Wells Memorial Stakes, which will be run on the Prince of Wales card.

* New identification requirements for everyone entering the United States were put in place June 1 and have impacted tourism. The Niagara Parks Commission chairman stated that there has been a 15-20 percent drop in tourist revenue since the beginning of June.