Irish Mission 5-2 Choice in Prince of Wales

Irish Mission 5-2 Choice in Prince of Wales
Photo: Michael Burns
Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission was second in the Queen's Plate.

Irish Mission, runner-up in the Queen's Plate last month, takes on males once more in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes as the 5-2 morning line favorite at Fort Erie racetrack in Ontario July 15.

Winner of the Woodbine Oaks prior to the Queen's Plate, Robert S. Evans' strapping 3-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway   has really hit her stride in 2012 after failing to finish in the money in her first five starts. She drew post 6 for the Prince of Wales and will retain the services of jockey Alex Solis.

“We’ve always liked her and it was just a question of her developing, understanding the game, and growing into her body," said trainer Mark Frostad. "She’s a big horse, but she’s really put it all together. Her effort in the Plate was fantastic. She ran a big race.”

This year's Prince of Wales drew a field of nine Ontario-breds at 1 3/16 miles. This is likely to be the last time the race is contested at Fort Erie. The 115-year-old track is slated to close Dec. 31 due to the Ontario government's decision to end its slot machine program at the track. The race is carded as the ninth on the program with a 5:20 p.m. EDT probable post.

Queen's Plate victor Strait of Dover will skip the second jewel of Canadian racing's Triple Crown. Trainer Dan Vella made the decision because of the suspect form the son of English Channel   displayed previously in racing on dirt. Strait of Dover is instead training up to the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine, the 1 1/2-mile turf race on Aug. 5 that completes the series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Irish Mission finished 1 1/4 lengths behind the front-running Strait of Dover, a result Frostad said might have been different had the filly engaged the winner earlier in the race. Irish Mission instead raced mid-pack to the far turn before launching a belated bid to finish a clear second over another filly, Dixie Strike.

Frostad concedes that the biggest question is how Irish Mission will respond to dirt for the first time in her nine-race career. "She’s been on the Woodbine training track to work and has no issues with it. We’ll just hope for another strong effort on Sunday.”

John Oxley's Dixie Strike is also entered in the Prince of Wales and is the 3-1 second choice for trainer Mark Casse. Patrick Husbands has the riding assignment on the daughter of Dixie Union. Dixie Strike trailed the field in the early part of the Queen's Plate and closed five wide to finish five lengths behind the winner.

Her effort helped atone for a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Woodbine Oaks as the 9-10 favorite. The bay filly captured the Selene Stakes (Can-III) in dominating fashion prior to that.

As fillies, Irish Mission and Dixie Strike each received a five-pound weight allowance and will carry 121.

Colleen's Sailor, trained by Roger Attfield for Terra Di Sienna Stables, drew the far outside post and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani. The Northern Afleet   colt ran fourth in the Queen's Plate at odds of 22-1. He is pegged at 4-1 on the morning line this time around.

A first-level allowance winner in May, Colleen's Sailor is seeking his first stakes win.

Ultimate Destiny, fifth in the Queen's Plate, and Quaesitor, a maiden winner June 30 at Woodbine, are both 8-1 on the morning line. Quaesitor was supplemented to the race for $12,500 by trainer Ian Howard.

Sam-Son Farms' homebred Dead On (10-1), trained by Malcolm Pierce, is the only horse in the field with prior race experience on dirt. The son of Awesome Again   ran second in an off-the-turn allowance/optional claiming race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 25. Emma-Jayne Wilson rides.

$500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes (Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3YOs Foaled in Canada, 1 3/16 Miles
PP. Horse Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Classic Bryce (ON), T Kabel, 126, D D Banach, 12/1
2. Ultimate Destiny (ON), S R Bahen, 126, M Keogh, 8/1
3. Dead On (ON), E Wilson, 126, M Pierce, 10/1
4. Dixie Strike (ON), P Husbands, 121, M E Casse, 3/1
5. Menlo Castle (ON), O Moreno, 126, R J Biamonte, 15/1
6. Irish Mission (ON), A O Solis, 121, M R Frostad, 5/2
7. Run in Aruba (ON), J V Bridgmohan, 126, R J Biamonte
8. Quaesitor (ON), S Callaghan, 126, I Howard, 8/1
9. Colleen's Sailor (ON), C S Nakatani, 126, R L Attfield, 4/1
 

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