07/13/2005 11:00PM

Two bargains take a shot at Wales


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Dan Mooney, who operates as Huntington Stud Farm Corp., went to the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale and bought just two Canadian-bred colts, one for $15,000 and the other for $10,000.

On Sunday, both horses - Out From Africa and Stephen's Gift - will take on Queen's Plate victor Wild Desert in the six-horse, $500,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

Trainer John Ross said Out From Africa and Stephen's Gift, both May foals, will give Wild Desert a battle for the top prize in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

"They just weren't ready for the Plate," said Ross, who shipped down Out From Africa and Stephen's Gift from their Woodbine base on Wednesday. "Now we've got two fresh horses going into the Wales - one is coming in off a win, and the other, Out From Africa, has gotten a little more foundation under him."

Out From Africa had two races last year, a maiden win and then a second in the Sunny's Halo Stakes. This year, he scored in a six-furlong allowance and then finished fourth but was placed third via disqualification in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial.

Jono Jones, who rode A Bit O'Gold to victory in last year's Prince of Wales, will be aboard Out From Africa.

Stephen's Gift, unraced at 2, won his maiden by 6 3/4 lengths at 1 1/16 miles in his third and last start on July 2. After finishing second in his debut, Stephen's Gift tried the Victoria Park Stakes. He faded to fifth in that 1 1/8-mile race behind winner Palladio, who captured the Grade 2 Ohio Derby in his next start.

Steve Bahen will ride Stephen's Gift.

The Prince of Wales will be televised live by The Score in a one-hour national special, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

On the show will be handicapper Jim Bannon, Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley, and broadcasters Jeff Bratt and Renee Kierans.

No big plans for Hunter Todd

Hunter Todd, 7, trained by Daryl Hasmatali, made it 3 for 3 on the year when he turned back Disbelief in a mile-and-70-yard starter allowance on Tuesday. Hunter Todd now has scored 12 times in his 27-race career.

"He's a classy old horse," said Hasmatali. "It's the best way to describe him. I honestly thought Disbelief would get the better of him."

Disbelief, 4, was making his first start at a route. His latest Beyer Speed Figures were higher than those of Hunter Todd's, but they were earned at 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

Disbelief is being considered for the upcoming series of Cup races at the Fort, which begins with the Don Valliere Memorial Cup on Aug. 7. The $30,000 Cup races replace the $40,000 in-house stakes of last year.

The earlier Cup contests require two previous starts at the meet for eligibility - the later races, three. Would Hunter Todd be competing in some of them?

"I'm not going to get too excited about them," said Hasmatali. "He's an older horse with a lot of problems. And I want to keep it simple for him. I might try one."

Hasmatali explained that he tried Hunter Todd on the turf in last year's Puss n Boots and the horse finished seventh.

"He's happy on the dirt track," he said. "That's where I would like to stay."

Track asks not to race on Fridays

Fort Erie, which originally was scheduled to race Fridays in August, has applied to the Ontario Racing Commission to delete those dates.

The application also seeks new racing dates on Friday, Oct. 28, and Tuesday, Nov. 1, which would be the final day of the meeting.

Fort Erie currently races four days a week, Saturday through Tuesday.

"We just looked at the horse population, which is around 1,100, and felt that five cards of racing would weaken the other four," said Herb McGirr Sr., director of operations for Fort Erie.

McGirr also cited the recurring hot weather as a potential deterrent to field sizes and a good reason to keep the schedule down to four days.

"The HBPA concurred with us," said McGirr.

The ORC will accept comments on the dates amendment from interested industry participants until July 21 before announcing its decision.

- additional reporting by Bill Tallon