07/10/2008 11:00PM

Pewter a wild card in Prince of Wales


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Seven years ago, trainer Jim Bond checked into town for the Prince of Wales with Wild Years, who had generated a wave of hype after winning his maiden by 22-plus lengths at Belmont.

Wild Years was sent off as the 6-5 favorite despite the presence of Dancethruthedawn and Win City, the first and second finishers in Woodbine's Queen's Plate.

Win City turned the tables and won in the Prince of Wales, with Dancethruthedawn a game second in a field of six while Wild Years finished "absolutely."

On Sunday, Bond will be here looking to make amends with Pewter, who will be coming in below the radar after ending a badly beaten last in the seven-horse field for Woodbine's June 1 Plate Trial. It was his first race on Polytrack.

"That was a disaster," said Bond, from his Saratoga base the other morning. "To be honest, he had a very easy lead."

When Pewter came back to Bond after the race he had lost some weight.

"I was not happy with him," Bond said. "Basically, I kind of went through him and reprogrammed him. He looks like a new horse."

Pewter had been making his first start in seven weeks in the Plate Trial after winning his maiden by six lengths over seven furlongs on Gulfstream's dirt course.

And while Solitaire finished second in the Plate Trial and third in the Queen's Plate for Bond and owner William Clifton Jr., it is Pewter whom they selected to carry the torch at Fort Erie.

"His race at Gulfstream was really a good race," said Bond of Pewter. "I'm not saying he beat a lot of horses but it was the way he did it, easily.

"If he handles the two turns, I may look smart."

Woodbine-based jockey Richard Dos Ramos has picked up the mount on Pewter. The arrangement came together in the space of about a half-hour on Wednesday morning, just prior to the closing of entries.

"Mr. Bond told me that the horse had been working very well, and that I could just ride my own race," said the 45-year-old Dos Ramos, who will be seeking his first Prince of Wales win but whose career highlights include victories in the Grade 1 Woodbine Million and Grade 1 Canadian International.

Shillelagh Slew owner back for more

If Deputiformer picks up a significant share of the Prince of Wales purse then his owner, David James, can only hope he will be able to cash the check a little earlier than he could following his first experience in the race.

Shillelagh Slew, owned by James and trained by Mike DePaulo, was awarded the top prize in the 2006 Prince of Wales after the stewards ruled that the first-place finisher, Malakoff, had come in and caused interference affecting several rivals.

Malakoff, owned by Stronach Stable, was disqualified and placed fifth but his connections appealed that decision.

Finally, following an Ontario Racing Commission hearing the following spring, Shillelagh Slew's connections received the $300,000 winner's check - some nine months after the race was run.

Top local rider gets a shot

DePaulo also will send out Pronger, who could be the longest shot on the board, coming off a front-running maiden win over seven furlongs at Woodbine.

Pronger, owned by Mario Forgione, will be stretching out again after failing in two previous two-turn races.

"He actually looks like a router," said DePaulo. "He just hasn't done it successfully yet."

DePaulo acknowledged that he would not be surprised to see Pronger on the lead in the Prince of Wales. "That's kind of the way he runs, and especially coming off seven-eighths race," he said.

Whatever transpires with Pronger, his presence in the Prince of Wales is a thrill for Fort Erie-based jockey Chad Beckon, who has won a handful of the "Cup" features here, but will be riding in the biggest race of his career in the Prince of Wales.

Beckon was told Wednesday morning by his agent Scott Lane that he would ride Pronger in the Wales.

"It all came up very quickly," said Beckon. "I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity."

Beckon, 28, is the runaway leading rider at the Fort Erie meeting with 41 victories, more than double the total of his closest pursuer, Rui Pimentel.

On Sunday, Beckon has mounts in all 10 races, including the Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial and the Ernie Samuel Memorial, the two $50,000 supporting stakes features.

Pimentel, who has 20 wins, will be serving a suspension Sunday through Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Beckon is hoping that his familiarity with the local oval will aid his cause with Pronger in the Prince of Wales.

"The past two weeks, I've had good luck in distance races," said Beckon. "The speed's been holding."

The last locally based jockey to win the Prince of Wales was Brian Bochinski, who rode Le Cinquieme Essai to victory in 2002.

Le Cinquieme Essai, trained by Paul Nielsen, is in training at Woodbine and gearing up for his 2008 debut.

Alezzandro runs Sunday at Woodbine

Alezzandro captured last year's Prince of Wales, and he will be looking for his first win since then in Sunday's ninth race at Woodbine.

Owned by Knob Hill Stable and trained by Kevin Attard, Alezzandro went on to finish sixth in the Breeders' Stakes and second in the Ontario Derby en route to being voted Canada's champion 3-year-old male.

Alezzandro was disappointing in two starts this year, finishing sixth on each occasion, but has been working well recently.

On Sunday, Alezzandro will be reunited with his Prince of Wales pilot Todd Kabel as he tries turf for the second time in a second-level allowance/optional $62,500 claimer at 1 1/8 miles.