07/14/2006 12:00AM

Step two in a Crown bid

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Michael Burns
Edenwold will face many of the same foes he defeated in the Queen's Plate.

FORT ERIE, Ontario - Edenwold slipped in beneath the radar as the 16-1 winner of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine on June 25, but will be the center of attention here at Fort Erie Sunday in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.

The Prince of Wales, a 1 3/16-mile race that is the showpiece of the Fort Erie meet, follows the Queen's Plate as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Sunday's card also includes the $75,000 Ernie Samuel Memorial, but the focus will be on the Prince of Wales and Edenwold, who will be looking to become the first horse since 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando to duplicate his Queen's Plate success here.

"He's going in well," said Josie Carroll, who trains Edenwold for Jim and Alice Sapara. "He's taken a step up in the Plate.

"I just really hope he runs back to that race. It looks like that's what it's going to take."

Emile Ramsammy retains the mount on , who shipped down from Woodbine on Monday to work over the track.

The Prince of Wales is almost a rerun of the Queen's Plate, with Royal Challenger the only new face in the field of eight.

Sterwins, owned by Melnyk Racing Stable and based at Belmont with trainer Todd Pletcher, was beaten by three-quarters of a length as the runner-up in the Queen's Plate. He checked into Fort Erie on Thursday morning.

"He had a good, solid five-eighths breeze before he left," said Pletcher, who sent out Sterwins for a 1:01.20 drill on Monday. "He seems to have bounced out of the Queen's Plate quite well."

Sterwins, who did not debut until May 20, will be making his fourth start in eight weeks in the Prince of Wales.

Following a second-place finish over six furlongs at Belmont on May 20, Sterwins romped by 10 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special at Monmouth Park on June 10.

"We were obviously concerned, being his third lifetime start and coming back in two weeks into the Plate," said Pletcher.

"He seemed to overcome that with a big race. The horse is physically in good shape, and they only run these races one time.

"We feel like the horse is doing well enough that he deserves a chance in there."

Chris DeCarlo, who rode Sterwins to his maiden win at Monmouth, will replace the gelding's Queen's Plate pilot, John Velazquez, who had a longstanding commitment at Belmont.

Malakoff, owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Brian Lynch, finished another four lengths back in third in the Queen's Plate. He had missed some training time because of a virus after rallying from just off the pace to win the 1 1/16-mile Marine at Woodbine on May 20.

"He got a lot out of the Plate," said Lynch, who had watched Malakoff force the issue early that day under regular rider Todd Kabel. "I'd like to see him go back to the way he won the Marine. I'd like to see him come from off it a little more. He's better if you can leave him alone a little bit."

Lynch also will saddle Royal Challenger, also owned by Stronach Stable, who will be looking for his third straight win in his first appearance in stakes company.

Ascot Bill, just a nose behind Malakoff as the closing fourth-place finisher in the Queen's Plate, returns with apprentice jockey Justin Stein in the irons.

"The last three days he's been nice and relaxed, which I really like," said Steve Attard, who trains Ascot Bill for Les Pereira. "He's training like a bear."

But the horse most eligible to reverse his Queen's Plate form is Shillelagh Slew, who stalked the pace but came up empty in the stretch run, finishing fifth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths under regular rider Dino Luciani.

Winner of a first-level allowance over seven furlongs in his only previous start this season, eight weeks before the Queen's Plate, Shillelagh Slew had his schedule compromised by a virus and throat surgery, which caused him to miss several days of training.

"This is a real good horse," said Mike DePaulo, who trains Shillelagh Slew for owner David James. "It was just hard to overcome those things in the Plate.

"He'll have no excuses. He'll be at his best for the Prince of Wales. He's training super."

Pipers Thunder, who won the Plate Trial but finished a distant sixth in the Queen's Plate, and Cifercat, who will add blinkers to his equipment after ending far back in eighth that day, round out the field.

The field

Prince of Wales Stakes
Purse: $500,000; 1 3/16 miles

PPHORSEJOCKEYODDS
1MalakoffT. Kabel4-1
2EdenwoldE. Ramsammy5-2
3SterwinsC. Decarlo3-1
4Pipers ThunderR. Sabourin8-1
5Ascot BillJ. Stein6-1
6Royal ChallengerP. Husbands8-1
7CifercatR. King20-1
8Shillelagh SlewD. Luciani8-1

* All starters carry 126 pounds
* Blinkers on: Cifercat
* Track morning line odds
* Television: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., The Score