TORONTO - Ami's Holiday, a rallying runner-up to Lexie Lou in the Queen's Plate, heads a list of 11 horses nominated to the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, to be held on Tuesday, July 29 at Fort Erie Racetrack.
The 79th edition of the Prince of Wales for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds will be televised live on TSN at 7pm et/4pm pt.
At a distance of 1 3/16-miles, the Prince of Wales is the only race in the Canadian Triple Crown Series that is run on a traditional dirt surface.
The Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile 'Poly' test is the first jewel of the Triple Crown which is completed by the Breeders' Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile endurance test over Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course, to be held on Sunday, August 17.
Queen's Plate winner Lexie Lou was not among the nominees, but trainer Mark Casse, who won last year's Prince of Wales with Uncaptured, has nominated Matador and East Side.
Ami's Holiday, an Ivan Dalos homebred son of Harlan's Holiday-Victorious Ami, started from the outside post under Luis Contreras in a 15-horse strong Plate field with the filly, Lexie Lou, leaving from Post 14.
The bay settled near the back of the pack in the 1 1/4-mile classic and tracked the run of Patrick Husbands and Lexie Lou through the final turn before a thrilling stretch run.
While Lexie Lou had a clear path to the wire, Contreras had to maneuver Ami's Holiday to the rail to avoid traffic trouble, closing with intent to finish 1 1/2-lengths behind the winning filly.
"I was really happy with him. I thought he made a tremendous run," said trainer Josie Carroll. "The filly came from right inside of us. You can't take anything away from her, she ran a great race."
Ami's Holiday breezed four furlongs in :50.20 on Thursday morning over the Woodbine 'Poly'.
"He came out of the Plate very well," said Carroll. "He's going to go down to Fort Erie on Monday to have a gallop over the track and see the paddock. His final breeze will be back here at Woodbine."
Ami's Holiday will be making his first dirt start in the Prince of Wales, but the colt spent part of his winter at Oaklawn Park with Carroll before shipping to Keeneland for his seasonal debut when fourth in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes.
"He was on the dirt all winter at Oaklawn and he was fine on the dirt," said Carroll.
With a record of 2-2-1 from seven starts and purse earnings of $423,460, Ami's Holiday has been a consistent performer for his owner-breeder topped by a win in October's Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine.
Carroll is hopeful the colt will earn Dalos a coveted Classic win at Fort Erie.
"When you look at the horses that Mr. Dalos has bred, with that back pedigree of Victory Gallop (sire of dam Victorious Ami), he definitely sets out to breed a horse for endurance," said Carroll.
Lions Bay, trained by Jamie Attard for longtime owners/breeders Martin and Vicky Earle and their sons, Nicholas and Jonathan, arrives at the Prince of Wales from a troubled sixth-place run in the Queen's Plate.
The Sligo Bay colt entered the Plate with back-to-back wins, but trouble arrived almost immediately after the break for horse and rider David Moran.
"He broke well, but two steps out he stumbled and grabbed the inside of his front right foot and bent his shoe down about an inch and a half," said Attard. "It made him uncomfortable and David said he wasn't able to stride out like he normally would."
"The filly ran a huge race that day and I don't want to take anything away from her. I don't think we would have won, but we think we could have been fourth. There were only 2 1/2-lengths from fourth to six in the Plate and we felt we could have been right there."
Good news coming out of the race is that Lions Bay appeared no worse for wear.
"Thankfully we came back to the barn and he didn't have a nick on him," said Attard. "We pulled the shoe right away and his foot is fine. We put a new shoe on him and he's training beautifully, so it seems to be a non-issue."
Lions Bay will breeze over Woodbine's dirt training track on Tuesday afternoon in his final Prince of Wales prep.
"He did most of his preliminary training last year on the training track and he's had a number of works over it and he handles it fine," said Attard. "I understand that Fort Erie is a little bit different of a dirt surface, but we've breezed here in :47 and change, so he handles the dirt very well."
Matador and Coltimus Prime, seventh and ninth in the Plate respectively, are also expected to make the short trek down the Queen Elizabeth Way for the Prince of Wales.
Matador, trained by Casse for John Oxley, arrived at the Plate from an easy allowance win after trying his luck in a series of U.S. Triple Crown prep races where his best result was a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Casse won the 2013 edition of the Prince of Wales with Uncaptured, the 2012 Canadian Horse of the Year.
Coltimus Prime, a dark bay Milwaukee Brew colt, was part of the early pace in the Plate before fading. The Justin Nixon trainee boasts a record of 2-2-0 from eight career starts including an allowance score heading into the Plate.
Owned by Cabernet Racing Stables, the social media savvy connections also attempted to make the Kentucky Derby with ColtimusPrime, finishing a good fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland before deciding to focus on the Plate.
Newcomers to the Canadian Triple Crown experience on the nomination list include Ascot Martin, Bangkok, East Side, Lynx, Money Talks, Rhythm Blues and Smart Spree.
Of that group, Money Talks, a dark bay Mobil gelding trained by William Tharrenos, seems certain to make the Prince of Wales field.
Money Talks, under a patient steer from Jesse Campbell, toppled an optional claiming field in style on Friday afternoon at Woodbine covering 1 1/16-miles in 1:45.28.
Making his first start since May 19, Campbell settled into fifth position along the rail with Money Talks and waited until the top of the lane to split rivals with an impressive turn of foot for a 4 3/4-length score.
"Jesse just let him run the last eighth of a mile. He looks pretty fit right now," said Tharrenos following the race. "That little break really helped him. He had a two month break and in a couple works it showed in the morning that he's coming along very well.
"I think we'll point there (the Prince of Wales) as long as he comes out of it well. We were really pleased to have that little break and let him come back to himself. He wasn't right the last couple starts, but we have him right now."
Money Talks boasts a record of 3-2-1 from 10 career starts and has faced older company in all four of his 2014 starts. Tharrenos is confident the gelding will handle the dirt.
"He trains well on it in the morning and I think this (result) will get him to peak right on," said Tharrenos.
The draw for the Prince of Wales will take place on Friday, July 25th in the Fort Erie Race Office at 1pm. The Prince of Wales will be run on Tuesday, July 29th. First race post time is scheduled for 4:15. The Prince of Wales will be televised on TSN from 7pm to 8pm EDT with the Prince of Wales scheduled for 7:40 pm.