07/16/2012 1:23PM

Prince of Wales winner Dixie Strike eyes Alabama Stakes

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Michael Burns
Dixie Strike, winner of Fort Erie's Prince of Wales, is being considered for the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse had faith in Dixie Strike, and his judgment was rewarded at Fort Erie on Sunday when the filly recorded the biggest win of her career in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.

Dixie Strike had been keeping a busy schedule, making her seventh start of the season and racing on three weeks’ rest for the third straight time after winning the May 13 Selene, finishing a disappointing fifth in the June 3 Woodbine Oaks, and then ending a closing third in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate on June 24.

Going against his original inclination, Casse elected to cancel a scheduled breeze for Dixie Strike on the weekend prior to the Prince of Wales and galloped her up to the race.

“I thought about working her here on the training track or sending her down to Fort Erie to breeze,” Casse said. “But I knew she liked the dirt after having her at Palm Meadows this winter.

“I work horses to get them fit. Once they’re fit, I’d rather keep them happy. She gained probably 75 pounds going into this race. I was really confident in her chances.”

Now that Dixie Strike has proven herself on dirt, Casse will consider more options on that surface.

“I may just send her down to Saratoga and see how she likes it there,” Casse said. “We may go to the Alabama.”

The Alabama ,a 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-old fillies that offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $600,000, will be run Aug. 18.

Ultimate Destiny on to Breeders’

Ultimate Destiny and Colleen’s Sailor, the respective fifth- and fourth-place finishers in the Queen’s Plate, both improved on those efforts in the Prince of Wales.

“I was over the moon,” said trainer Mike Keogh, who watched Ultimate Destiny finish a battling second and pick up $100,000 after being beaten a length by Dixie Strike. “I thought Steven [Bahen] rode him well, too.”

The stewards, however, found fault with Bahen’s ride and fined him $2,000 for excessive use of the whip.

Meanwhile, the current plan calls for Ultimate Destiny to carry on in the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. The race will be run Aug. 5 at Woodbine.

“I think he’ll run big in the Breeders’, too,” Keogh said. “He should like the grass, the way he gets over the ground, and I don’t think the trip would bother him.”

Colleen’s Sailor ended another half-length back in third after attending the quick pace set by Menlo Castle.

“I thought it was a good race, but I still question whether he really wants to go that far,” trainer Roger Attfield said.

“It looks like he’ll be a very effective mile-and-a-sixteenth horse. He’s a real genuine horse, and I think he’s got a pretty good future ahead of him.”

Attfield will be weighing opportunities for Colleen’s Sailor, who remains eligible for his second allowance condition.

Quaesitor, taking a large step up after returning from a seven-month layoff to graduate in his 1 1/16-mile seasonal bow at Woodbine, finished a solid fourth in the Prince of Wales, despite a wide trip.

“He’s still green, but I was really happy with his race,” said trainer Ian Howard, who will be taking a long look at the Breeders’. “I’ll breeze him on the grass. If he handles the grass, he’ll handle the mile and a half. He just keeps galloping along.”

Dead On, the only entrant in the Prince of Wales with dirt experience, finished fifth.

“I thought he had a perfect trip,” trainer Malcolm Pierce said. “We’ll be sending him home now for about 60 days. We’re going to give him a little rest, freshen him up. He’s been going all year.”

The biggest disappointment in the Prince of Wales was Irish Mission, who had won the Woodbine Oaks and finished a solid second in the Queen’s Plate but was a soundly beaten sixth here under regular rider Alex Solis.

“She’s obviously not a dirt horse,” trainer Mark Frostad said. ”She broke well and was in a good position, but after a half-mile the jockey said she was swimming and obviously wasn’t handling it.”

Frostad also suggested that the Breeders’ Stakes was a possibility for Irish Mission.

“The mile and a half and the turf would be right up her alley, if she came out of this race really good,” Frostad said.

Trainer Ralph Biamonte sent out Menlo Castle and Run in Aruba to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Prince of Wales.

“We’ll have to regroup, and find them some easier spots,” Biamonte said. “Menlo has to go short – seven furlongs is his distance – and it will be Ontario-sired races for Run in Aruba.”

Classic Bryce wound up last of nine in the Prince of Wales, and there was no word on what path his immediate future might take.