07/14/2005 11:00PM

Wild Desert odds-on in Wales

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Wild Desert (No. 5) and Patrick Valenzuela win the Queen's Plate last month by a half-length over King of Jazz., who is not running in Sunday's Prince of Wales.

FORT ERIE, Ontario - Wild Desert doesn't have to be the winner of the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.

But the projected pace setup, plus the manner in which Wild Desert won the $1 million at Woodbine, will make him difficult to deny here Sunday.

The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales follows the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate as the second jewel in Canada's Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

The $500,000 Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Woodbine Aug. 7, rounds out the series. There is a $50,000 bonus available to the breeder of a horse who sweeps the series, but a former $500,000 bonus for a winning owner was discontinued this year.

was making his first start in 10 weeks in the Queen's Plate but rallied for a half-length victory against fellow invader King of Jazz, who is bypassing the Prince of Wales.

Although Wild Desert has worked only once since the June 26 Queen's Plate, breezing five furlongs in 1:07.92 on the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Tuesday, he came into the Plate with a notable lack of published workouts, and his readiness should not be underestimated.

Wild Desert again will run in the name of trainer Bobby Frankel, who was his trainer of record but was not present for the Plate. Richard Dutrow Jr., who took over as Wild Desert's trainer in April, currently is serving a suspension that expires at month's end.

Patrick Valenzuela retains the mount on Wild Desert, who will be an odds-on choice here in a field of six.

The other returnees from the Queen's Plate are Ablo, who finished fifth, and Granique, sixth.

, the winner of Woodbine's 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity last fall, came up empty in the final furlong of the Plate.

"I think a mile and a sixteenth probably will be his best distance, as time goes on," said his trainer, Roger Attfield. "But he's a legitimate tryer; we're going to give him a chance at it."

Attfield expects Ablo to be reasonably close to the pace again Sunday but probably not on the lead, as he was throughout the Coronation under regular rider Gerry Olguin.

"He's the kind of horse that has to run his way," said Attfield. "I think there's some legitimate pace here, anyway."

Granique was making his stakes debut in the Plate, where he was prominent early and had some minor traffic problems on the rail leaving the turn.

Alec Fehr, who trains Granique for Knob Hill Stable, is anticipating an improved performance here Sunday.

"I think the Plate did him wonders," said Fehr. "He's become a serious horse since the Plate; he left a little greenness behind.

"I'm extremely happy with his progress."

Apprentice Corey Fraser, who rode Granique for the first time in the Plate, retains the mount.

Out From Africa, Stephen's Gift, and Autumn Snow are the newcomers in the Wales lineup.

set the pace in Woodbine's Plate Trial on June 5 but finished fourth and was placed third via a disqualification.

"He got a little tired at a mile and an eighth," said trainer John Ross, who opted to bypass the Plate with Out From Africa. "His fitness level, I thought, could be better.

"I've trained him into this race the way I'd like to. He's got some good foundation under him; I'm feeling better about him."

Jono Jones, who won last year's Prince of Wales aboard A Bit O'Gold, has picked up the mount on Out From Africa.

Stephen's Gift, also trained by Ross, has plenty of promise but just a maiden victory to show from his three starts at Woodbine this season.

"I really liked his win," said Ross, who watched Stephen's Gift score by 6 3/4 lengths over 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine July 2. "I know he's stepping up in class, but he's obviously progressing.

"He's got some quality in him, I think. He's got some confidence now, and he'll definitely love the distance."

Autumn Snow is returning to the main track after finishing fourth in the Charlie Barley at a mile on turf at Woodbine June 26.

The field

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

1GraniqueC. Fraser6-1
2Autumn SnowF. Villeneuve10-1
3Wild DesertP. Valenzuela3-5
4AbloG. Olguin5-1
5Stephen's GiftS. Bahen8-1
6Out From AfricaJ. Jones4-1

* All starters carry 126 pounds
* Odds by Bill Tallon
* Television: Sunday, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; The Score