11/08/2010 4:44PM

Prince Will I Am's best days may lie ahead


Following Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs, in which Prince Will I Am was disqualified from second and placed 10th for interference, owner Susie Atkins of Casa Farms would have a right to feel disgusted.

Losing $90,000 in earnings, the purse differential between second and 10th-place, she could feel anger toward her jockey, Javier Castellano, who the stewards suspended six days for careless riding aboard Prince Will I Am. Or she could feel dismay toward the stewards for the disqualification.

Instead, she says she feels mostly excitement – about the future for her horse, who besides running just 1 3/4 lengths behind victorious Eldaafer in the Marathon, also won the Grade 1 Jamaica on turf at Belmont in his preceding race Oct. 9.

“I have Prince Will I Am, so I haven’t lost,” Atkins, 66, said from her Kentucky farm. “You haven’t heard the end of Prince Will I Am.”

Under the circumstances few would be so upbeat, not after paying $45,000 to supplement to the Marathon, and then having no earnings to show for it as a result of the disqualification.

Atkins also had the misfortune of being in the midst of the melee that broke out in the winner’s circle after the race, when Calvin Borel, the rider of A. U. Miner – one of the horses impacted by the traffic problems involving Prince Will I Am on the second turn – began fighting with Castellano over what Borel felt was a dangerous ride.

Michelle Nihei, Prince Will I Am’s trainer, echoed her owner’s sentiments toward the future, saying she is excited about a 4-year-old campaign for Prince Will I Am that could result in him returning to Churchill Downs for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup, be it in the Marathon or a more prestigious Breeders’ Cup race.

She acknowledged the disqualification of Prince Will I Am, her first Breeders’ Cup starter, was difficult, particularly coming shortly after another one of her other top horses, Silent Joy, exited her barn after she had a falling out with one of that filly’s owners.

“It was one of my toughest weeks in racing, that’s for sure,” said Nihei, who began training in December 2007.

She said Prince Will I Am will winter in South Florida, where he will likely be pointed toward races on the turf, the surface on which he won the Jamaica.