FORT ERIE, Ont. — Another year, another Prince of Wales Stakes title for jockey Justin Stein.
Stein rode 7-1 pick Velocitor to victory in the $400,000 race, the second jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, on a wet Tuesday at Fort Erie Racetrack. Stein also won last year's race aboard Duke of Love.
Stein had Velocitor settle in behind King's Plate champion Paramount Prince and Ottawa at the start of the 1 3/16-mile dirt race. He took Velocitor to the lead off the final turn, finishing in one minute 55.24 seconds on a sloppy racetrack.
Kaukokaipuu, also a 7-1 pick with Rico Walcott aboard, was second ahead of Paramount Prince, the 5-2 favourite with jockey Patrick Husbands, as the field was reduced to 11 horses after Armaline — which drew the No. 1 post — was scratched.
"I had a great trip," Stein said. "We kind of let Ottawa do the hard work and put the pressure on Paramount Prince.
"I had a ton of horse and I just waited for a chance to pull trigger when we had some running room. He gave me everything he had down the lane."
Velocitor was coming off a fourth-place finish in the King's Plate on Aug. 20 at Woodbine Racetrack.
Like he did in both the Plate Trial and King's Plate, Husbands took Paramount Prince to the lead right from the start. But unlike those two races, which Paramount Prince went wire-to-wire for the win, this time there were horses ready to make a challenge later on.
"I told Justin in the paddock that I thought Ottawa would be the horse that presses," said winning trainer Kevin Attard. "I said if he doesn't then we need to.
"(Stein) gave the horse a perfect ride, you couldn't have asked for anything better. When the time came he tipped out and the horse kind of gave it his all down the stretch."
The remainder of the field, in order, was: Cool Kiss; Tiburon; Twin City; Stanley House; Trinity Park; Stayhonor Goodside; Morstachy's; and Ottawa.
Velocitor paid $17.70, $8.40 and $5.40 while Kaukokaipuu returned $8.10 and $5. Paramount Prince paid $3.40.
Velocitor conquered wet, muddy track conditions for his fourth career win in 10 starts (career earnings exceeding $445,000) but first in five races this year. Attard said one of the horse's connections — Velocitor is owned and bred by Al and Bill Ulwelling — said Velocitor's pedigree suggested he could run well in sloppy circumstances.
"The owner was telling me not long before the race his dam (Polar Plunge), she relished the off-track so that was obviously a little bit of a boost of confidence," Attard said. "But until they run on it, you don't really know how they're going to fare."
Wando, bred and owned by the late Gus Schickedanz, was the last Canadian Triple Crown champion in 2003.
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf event that goes Oct. 1 at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.
The Canadian Press