Off to the Races with Nick Costa
Photo credits: Nick Costa except Prince Of Wales finish, Contreras with the POW trophy, My Natalie and "Closer look at the Hat" which are all attributed to Michael Burns photgraphy
A WALE OF A RACE:
Neither the outside temperature that hovered near 90 degrees, nor excessively hot conditions could deter a large crowd from filing in to Fort Erie Racetrack last Sunday. They came from all points of Western New York and Southern Ontario to witness the showcase race on the track's calendar, the 76th edition of the Prince Of Wales Stakes. After waiting through eight undercard races that began at 2 p.m., the nearly 4 hour countdown to post time for the $500,000 prestigious event had finally come to an end. It was well worth the wait. Everyone in attendance witnessed one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of the race.
Seven 3-year-old Canadian-bred colts and geldings left the gate on their 1 3/16-mile journey. Oh Canada, breaking from the rail led Hippolytus and Welloiledmachine for three-quarters of the race with fractions going in, :24 2/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 1/5, while the eventual winner raced mid-pack in fourth. Oh Canada took the field into the stretch with a clear 1 1/2 length lead over Hippolytus, who then began to fade, so too for Welloiledmachine, as PENDER HARBOUR and the closing Bowman's Causeway took up the chase. Oh Canada with local rider Krista Carignan riding, were trying to take the field all the way and it looked as if they were going to pull it off, but PENDER HARBOUR successfully wore down the persistent pacesetter in very deep stretch and then dug down resolutely in the last strides to fend off the hard-charging challenge of Bowman's Causeway to win by a mere nose. It was a half-length back to Oh Canada in third. Even money race favorite, Check Your Soul, broke outward from his outside post at the start, never recovered and trailed throughout. The final time was 1:55 3/5.
PICK ONE OR THE OTHER:
Race 6 on the Prince Of Wales undercard was the Fort Erie Slots Cup which offered up a purse of $30,000 to the nine fillies and mares participating. The Martin Drexler trained duo of MY NATALIE and GEE PARI, both undefeated in 2011, ran coupled as an entry. Jockey Krista Carignan was named to ride both horses and had to make a decision on which one to choose. Carignan made the correct choice selecting the mare MY NATALIE who wired the field from start to finish, beating here barn mate by less than a length.
A hat contest for the ladies was held after the 5th race and the winner was Rosanna Basheir from Toronto. Her ladies day hat which was decorated with flowers, butterflies, feathers and of course horses., was worth a first place prize of $300.00. Congratulations Rosanna!
Jockey Chris Griffith leads all Fort Erie riders with 30 wins His closest pursuers are Krista Carignan and Kirk Johnson, with 26 and 25 wins respectively. Real Simard has brought home 20 winners, while Betty Jo Williams rounds out the top five with 18 victories.
It is even extremely tighter on the trainers side of the ledger. As it is with the jockey's battle, I fully expect this trainer's race to go right down to the very end of the meet. Currently, just three wins separate five very talented individuals. There is a tie for the top spot with Ross Armata and John Simms having 11 wins apiece. Layne Gilforte has saddled 10 winners, followed by Sam DiPasquale with 9 and Martin Drexler checking in with 8. STAY TUNED
PERSONAL FORT ERIE TRACK BIAS OBSERVATIONS FOR JULY 10th-19th
July 10th--Sprints clearly favored runners pressing the pace. Routes predominately went to horses from well off-the-pace.
July 11th--No Bias
July 12th--No Bias Closers won both turf races
July 17th--No Bias
July 18th--No Bias
July 19th--No Bias