07/13/2008 12:00AM

Not Bourbon takes on new challenges

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – Not Bourbon showed plenty of talent and desire when winning the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial by a neck and the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate by a head at Woodbine in his last two starts.

Now, Not Bourbon will be taking his show on the road as he continues his Canadian Triple Crown quest here in Sunday’s $500,000 Prince of Wales, the showpiece of the Fort Erie meeting.

The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales has attracted a field of eight Canadian-breds and headlines a solid card which also includes a pair of $50,000 turf sprints, the Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial and the Ernie Samuel Memorial.

And while in most years Not Bourbon would be a prohibitive favorite due to the absence of the Queen’s Plate two-three finishers Ginger Brew and Solitaire, he will be facing a potentially formidable new opponent in Harlem Rocker as he tries the dirt for the first time.

“If Harlem Rocker came with his ‘A’ game he’d be a very tough horse,” said Roger Attfield, who conditions Not Bourbon for owner-breeder Charles Fipke. “But, I’m very happy with my horse. I think they’re going to have to run to beat him. He seems to be getting more professional with every race.”

Not Bourbon has continued his pattern of strong workouts since the Queen’s Plate, breezing five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Woodbine’s dirt training track July 2 and four furlongs in 47.20 on Polytrack this past Wednesday.

“He’s actually trained better after the Plate, and he seems to have put on a little bit of weight,” said Attfield.

Not Bourbon shipped to Fort Erie Thursday afternoon. His regular rider, Jono Jones, who has continued to be the colt’s partner in all of his morning exercises, was aboard for his first trip over the track here Friday morning.

“He had a nice little gallop around there,” said Attfield, who drove down with Jones from Woodbine. “He loved it.”

Jones and Attfield were to return here Saturday for Not Bourbon’s final Prince of Wales gallop.

Attfield believes that Not Bourbon’s habit of becoming visibly overheated before his races, as he did in the Queen’s Plate, is not a serious cause for concern.

“He doesn’t actually wash out; he gets hot,” said Attfield. “There’s a difference between getting hot and nervous washing-out.

“It’s just the way he is. He gets hot really fast, and he cools out really fast.”

Harlem Rocker was not scheduled to depart from his Belmont Park base until Saturday morning.

Harlem Rocker won his first three races, all over dirt surfaces, including the Grade 3 Withers over one mile at Aqueduct. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Harlem Rocker was a major disappointment when a non-threatening fourth in the Plate Trial over the Woodbine Polytrack on June 1.

A subsequent five-furlong work over the Polytrack produced a good clocking but a slowing finish, and Harlem Rocker was withdrawn from Queen’s Plate consideration after his Stronach Stable connections decided the colt was averse to the Polytrack surface.

Harlem Rocker has since turned in a pair of solid five-furlong breezes at Belmont and is a major threat here in his second try around two turns.

Eibar Coa, who has partnered Harlem Rocker in each of his starts, retains the mount.

Deputiformer finished fourth in the June 22 Queen’s Plate after making the lead with a quarter-mile to run, and is a legitimate upset possibility.

“He ran a real good race in the Plate, and he hadn’t run in five weeks,” said Mike DePaulo, who trains Deputiformer for owner David James. “A mile and three-sixteenths might be a little better for him; he only got beat 4 3/4 lengths. He’s a solid horse; he’s a tryer.”

Deputiformer, whose lone win came in Woodbine’s Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of turf last October, raced on dirt in his only start at Gulfstream this winter, finishing a distant third behind Big Brown in a one-mile first-level allowance race originally scheduled for grass.

“He handles the dirt well enough,” said DePaulo. “He trains on dirt here at Woodbine, and was at Palm Meadows all winter.”

Jerry Baird retains the mount on Deputiformer, who figures to get a ground-saving trip from his inside post.

Other Queen’s Plate contestants scheduled to run back in the Prince of Wales are East End Tap (sixth), Took the Time (eighth), and Sebastian’s Song (10th).

Rounding out the field are Pewter, who will be looking to rebound from a dismal effort in the Plate Trial for trainer James Bond, and Pronger, who is coming off a seven-furlong maiden win for DePaulo.

Both Pewter and Pronger add speed to the mix but are unproven around two turns.