07/13/2008 11:00PM

Not Bourbon not invincible in Prince of Wales


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Not Bourbon became the first Plate Trial Stakes winner since Alydeed in 1992 to capture the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 22. On Sunday, he will try to do what Alydeed failed to do as the 1-20 favorite: win the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, at Fort Erie.

Alydeed's astonishing loss to upstart Benburb over a muddy track in the 1 3/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds was an exception to the rule in that the Wales has been quite formful over the years - even when it was run at 1 1/2 miles on the grass prior to 1988.

Not surprisingly, horses coming off a top-three placing in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate have been dominant in the Wales this decade.

In 2001, the Plate runner-up, Win City, overhauled Plate winner Dancethruthedawn in the final strides to score with a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Plate winner Wando won at 1-5 in the 2003 Wales, and went on to sweep the Triple Crown in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes on the grass.

Niigon upset favored A Bit O'Gold in the 2004 Plate, but A Bit O'Gold turned the tables on Niigon in the Wales, and eventually landed the Breeders'.

Malakoff, who was third in the 2006 Plate after missing some training, got home on top in the Wales, but was disqualified for interference. Shillelagh Slew, fifth in the Plate, finished second that year and inherited the Wales victory.

Alezzandro led throughout last year's Wales, after losing the Plate to outsider Mike Fox in deep stretch.

Not Bourbon will likely be the favorite on Sunday, even though he was let go at 9-2 in the Plate, which was surprisingly higher than his morning line price of 3-1.

Trainer Roger Attfield and jockey Jono Jones did a masterful job of harnessing Not Bourbon's speed in the Plate, while traveling a distance seemingly beyond his range.

Not Bourbon, who has made each of his 10 starts on Polytrack, breezed five-eighths in a bullet 59.20 seconds on the dirt over Woodbine's training track July 2. Attfield said he loves Not Bourbon's chances on a conventional main track.

"He worked very well all winter on the dirt at Payson Park," Attfield said. "He had a good work on the training track. He goes the same on the dirt as he does on the Polytrack."

The Belmont-based Harlem Rocker has the most experience on dirt in the field. He will be tough to fend off if able to duplicate his authoritative score over J Be K in the Grade 3 Withers in April at Aqueduct, for which he got a 106 Beyer.

Trainer Todd Pletcher ran Harlem Rocker in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, but the Stronach Stable runner never fired in his first try on a synthetic surface and finished fourth as the heavy favorite.

Harlem Rocker is scheduled to ship to Fort Erie close to the race, which is not ideal for any runner going across the border from the Big Apple in the heat of summer. The last United States-based horse to capture the Wales was the Pletcher-trained Archers Bay in 1998.

Pewter, stabled at Saratoga with trainer James Bond, came up empty in the Trial after setting a moderate pace. Expect him to be more effective on the dirt following several lively works at Saratoga.

Deputiformer, the fourth-place finisher in the Plate, is an obvious prospect for exotic wagers again. He is one of two Mike DePaulo-trained runners in the field, along with the likely pacemaker, Pronger.

Not Bourbon prevailed in the Plate despite washing out on a cool day. He could get lathery on Sunday if the weather continues to be hot and humid like it was earlier in the week, which might be reason enough to try to beat him at a short price.

Harlem Rocker won't offer much value, either, but his off-the-pace style should be effective on the kind Fort Erie surface, which has always been regarded as relatively fair in terms of bias. Cheap horses often win at the Fort by closing down the crown of the track, and that type of trip might enable Harlem Rocker to rebound off his disappointing Trial performance.