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Big Red Mike looks to be crowned in Prince of Wales

The connections of BIG RED MIKE (Tenpins) are hoping that his brush with royalty will translate into a sweep of the Canadian Triple Crown, but first the chestnut will have to take on seven rivals in the second leg of the series, the C$500,000 Prince of Wales S., at Fort Erie on Sunday.

Big Red Mike's royal encounter came following his gate-to-wire victory in the Queen's Plate S. on July 4 at Woodbine. The three-year-olds connection's -- trainer Nicholas Gonzalez, jockey Eurico Da Silva and owners/breeders Terra Racing Stable -- enjoyed the pleasure of receiving the trophy from Queen Elizabeth II herself, who was attending the Queen's Plate for the fourth time in her lengthy reign. The Queen's last visit occurred in 1997.

Big Red Mike first put his hoof onto the Canadian Triple Crown trail when taking the Plate Trial S. by a half-length over Woodbine's Polytrack in mid-June. Besides the Queen's Plate score, the gelding's only other career win came when he broke his maiden as a juvenile in December. He'll be making his dirt debut in this 1 3/16-mile test and, if successful, will likely go on to try turf for the first time in the third leg of the series, the August 15 Breeders' S. going 1 1/2 miles back at Woodbine.

Among those lining up to spoil Big Red Mike's historic bid are HOTEP (A.P. Indy) and MOBTHEWARRIOR (Mobil). Both ran in the Queen's Plate, with Hotep finishing second and Mobthewarrior five lengths behind in fifth. The latter actually competed against Big Red Mike in the Plate Trial, winding up third on that day, and boasts a victory in last year's Frost King S.

Hotep is one of only three runners in this field who has experience running on a conventional dirt surface. The Mark Frostad trainee opened his sophomore season at Fair Grounds, taking an allowance/optional claimer by 3 1/4 lengths before knocking himself out of American Triple Crown consideration when well-beaten in the Risen Star S. (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2). The bay colt returned to the Polytrack at Woodbine and immediately posted an easy win in the Wando S. prior to seconds in the Marine S. and Queen's Plate.

The other two with dirt experience are GOLDEN MOKA (Golden Missile) and WHO WE GUNNA CALL (Ghostzapper). Golden Moka is undefeated from three starts thus far, with all three coming in Panama. He'll be making his debut for new trainer Brian Lynch in the Prince of Wales and will try to transfer his stellar Panamanian form to Canada. Who We Gunna Call broke his maiden on the dirt at Tampa Bay Downs earlier in the season, but has competed on turf and Polytrack since.

Plate Trial fifth-placer CAPTAIN CANUCK (Pulpit), stakes-placed MOBIL UNIT (Mobil) and Queen's Plate sixth DARK CLOUD DANCER (Storm Cat) round out the Prince of Wales field.

Two undercard stakes will sandwich the Prince of Wales, with the C$50,000 Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial S. one race prior and the C$50,000 Ernie Samuel Memorial S. one race after. Both events are set for five furlongs on the turf.


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