Justin Stein has his first Prince of Wales Stakes win.
The veteran jockey rode Duke of Love to victory in the $400,000 race, the second jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, at Fort Erie Racetrack on Tuesday afternoon.
“It feels amazing,” he said afterwards. “It was just awesome.”
Stein had Duke of Love second almost the entire race behind Ironstone and jockey Kazushi Kimura, something Stein figured was an an advantage given the muddy conditions of the track. Coming off the final turn it became a two-horse race between Duke of Love and Ironstone, with Stein moving his mount ahead for good in deep stretch.
Duke of Love won the 1 3/16-mile dirt race in 1:58.07 on a sunny afternoon. But Stein had to wait for his victory to become official as there was a steward’s inquiry at the end, but no changes were made to the order of finish.
“Duke broke really well,” Stein said. “His stride was comfy right away, I wasn’t worried about the dirt at all.
“We had a nice clean trip on the outside, he got to relax. On a track like this there’s even more kickback when it’s heavy and wet and sloppy. It makes it a lot easier for the horse if they can get a clean trip and they’re not having to think about running into that slop. We had a dream trip.”
Stein said he wasn’t sure about why there was an inquiry.
“I was set up and I was in position and I never heard any communication from the jockeys and riders behind me,” he said. “You know, pulling out there was a loose horse coming around the turn and I was hoping everyone was OK.”
Sir for Sure, the early 7-5 favourite, went out of the race after losing jockey Declan Carroll. There was no indication either of Carroll’s condition or what led to him being unseated.
But afterwards, Carroll took to social media to say he and his horse are fine.
“Thank you to everyone for reaching out and checking in on me,” Carroll tweeted. “Fortunately, came out unscathed.
“Most importantly Sir For Sure will be back. We will live to fight another day.”
Ironstone, the 6-5 favourite, was second in the seven-horse field that didn’t include filly Moira, the winner of last month’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack. Moira’s absence means Wando remains the last horse to capture the Triple Crown, doing so in 2003.
Ice Road. ridden by Jason Hoyte, took third.
Duke of Love earned trainer Josie Carroll a third Prince of Wales Stakes crown. The horse secured a third victory from eight starts.
Duke of Love was eighth in the Queen’s Plate, but Stein said he could sense the horse was in a much better place Tuesday.
“Today, he was more on his game,” Stein said. “On (the) post parade I could tell he was more focused.
“He’s a good horse and they overcome things like a bad race once in a while. I had a feeling that today was the day.”
Duke of Love returned $7.10, $3.30 and $2.80 while Ironstone paid $2.70 and $2.40. Ice Road returned $8.70.
The final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes turf event, goes Oct. 2 at Woodbine.