TORONTO — It appears the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes is on tap for Clayton.
The three-year-old colt was back on the track Tuesday at Woodbine Racetrack, just three days after his third-place finish in the $1-million Queen’s Plate at the Toronto oval. Trainer Kevin Attard was so pleased with the session that he said Clayton is being pointed towards the Prince of Wales, the second jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown slated for Sept. 29 at Fort Erie Racetrack.
“We sent him out to the track this morning for a little jog and I was really happy with the way he came out of the race,” Attard said during a telephone interview. “Obviously the Prince of Wales is under serious consideration, we’re targeting that now.”
“(The quick turnaround between Plate and Prince of Wales) is obviously always a concern, especially when you’re coming off a 1 1/4-mile race like that (Plate). But he’s eating well and I was extremely pleased with the way he was moving on the track. Right now all systems are a go, I’m happy with how he’s come out of it and that’s first and foremost.”
Under normal circumstances, horses have almost a month between the two races. The Plate was originally scheduled for June 27 with the Prince of Wales set to go July 23.
But both races were rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That resulted in just 17 days between two different events — the first covering 1 1/4 miles on Tapeta and the second on dirt over 1 3/16 miles.
The final Canadian Triple Crown event is the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Woodbine, on Oct. 24.
Clayton was the 3-1 second choice at the Plate behind filly Curlin’s Voyage, the 9-5 favourite. Coming off the final turn, jockey Rafael Hernandez appeared to have Clayton poised to challenge leader Mighty Heart down the stretch.
But it never materialized as Daisuke Fukumoto guided Mighty Heart, which lost an eye in a paddock accident as a foal, to an emphatic 7 1/2-length victory. That earned trainer Josie Carroll a third career Plate title.
Mighty Heart’s time of 2:01.98 was the second-fastest since 1957 when the Plate was first run at the new Woodbine over its current distance. That effort was second only to Izvestia (2:01 4/5 in 1990).
“I thought we had a perfect trip and that Rafael gave him a good ride,” Attard said. “It looked like around the turn I loved my chances, I wouldn’t have traded them with anybody in the field at that point.
“Unfortunately, the other horse ran away from us, we couldn’t kind of kick on.”
Clayton has finished in the money in all four of his starts this season (two wins, one second, one third) for earnings of $191,426. He won his only race as a two-year-old and has earned $230,096 overall.
All five of Clayton’s career races have been at Woodbine.
Clayton won the $150,000 Plate Trial on Aug. 15, covering the 1 1/8-mile race on Woodbine’s Tapeta course in 1:50.61. Also on that card, Curlin’s Voyage won the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks in 1:50.04 over the same distance and surface.
Following Mighty Heart’s win in the Plate, Carroll couldn’t say whether the horse will run at Fort Erie. The last Canadian Triple Crown winner was Wando in 2003.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press