03/17/2006 1:00AM

Meet's five richest races all in July


TORONTO - July will be the hottest month at the 2006 Fort Erie meeting, with all five of the racetrack's stakes races being run within a three-week span that month. In addition to those stakes, the meet will host 19 "Cup" races restricted to horses that make a specified number of starts at the meeting.

As always, the showpiece of the 104-day meeting will be the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the 1 3/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. The Prince of Wales will be run on July 16.

Fort Erie also will host the second leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, the $250,000 Labatt Bison City at 1 1/16 miles on July 2.

The Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial Stakes, for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and up, is the supporting feature on the Bison City program, while the Ernie Samuel Memorial Stakes, for fillies and mares, is also on the Prince of Wales card.

Both stakes offer purses of $75,000, a reduction of $25,000 from last year.

The $125,000 Rainbow Connection, a five-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares, will be the final stakes of the meet, on July 23.

The H.A. Hindmarsh and H.J. Addison Jr., stakes for products of specified Ontario yearling sales, have been discontinued. Both had been run here in recent years.

Fort Erie has expanded its program of Cup races, worth $30,000 each.

"They worked well last year," said Tom Gostlin, Fort Erie's racing secretary. "The objective is to keep them for our own people - give them a race where they can make a little more money, and let them go for a trophy presentation."

Two new Cup races, both for 2-year-olds, are scheduled as the "Lucky Fan Cup," and will be part of promotions involving contest winners.

The Fort Erie meeting will run from April 29 through Oct. 31. Gostlin said that 1,567 stall applications were submitted for the 1,298 available stalls.