Siding with potential over experience in Prince of Wales

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 25th, 2017

Besides the improbability of getting qualified under the current Road to the Kentucky Derby Series points system, on its face it seems extremely far-fetched that America's most revered race could ever be won by a horse making its second lifetime start.

A similar feeling wasn't all that widespread earlier this month when Aurora Way, coming off a dazzling four-length maiden win three weeks earlier, was bet down to 5-1 in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, Canada's Derby equivalent.

Although I took a long, hard look at the son of Giant's Causeway, ultimately I couldn't pull the trigger on such an inexperienced runner, especially at that short a price. In the event, Aurora Way stalked the pace in third before retreating to ninth, nearly 12 lengths behind the winning Holy Helena.

Tuesday evening the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales, will be run over 1 3/16 miles, and Aurora Way is in the field of seven. Are the odds any better that a horse can win his homeland's Preakness (G1) equivalent in just his third lifetime start?

I'm not all that familiar with the history of the Prince of Wales and the background of its winners, but common sense suggest it'll still be a tall order. Unless he proves to be an exceptional talent among his Canadian-foaled peers, like Bernardini was among his U.S. contemporaries when he won the Preakness in his fourth lifetime start back in 2006, Aurora Way again might be biting off more than he can chew.

What does seem possible, though, is that Aurora Way (#2, 6-1 ML) will be a better price in the Prince of Wales even in a less-congested field. For the same reasons many found him an attractive candidate for the Queen's Plate, he offers similar intrigue in the Prince of Wales.

In addition to the valuable experience he surely gained in the Plate, Aurora Way has turned in two solid interim works, including a bullet five furlongs in :58.80 over Woodbine's dirt training track in advance of his debut on a similar surface. He's also adding Lasix and gets Rafael Hernandez back in the saddle, who rode him to the aforementioned maiden victory.

Aurora Way hails from a terrific family. His dam, a Grade 3 winner on dirt and a three-quarter sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Master Command, hails from the family of distinguished producer Lady Winborne, herself a half-sister to the brilliant French filly Allez France.

The competition is difficult, of course. Likely favorite Tiz a Slam was a clear second in the Queen's Plate and is clearly the one to beat while also making his first start on dirt. State of Honor, meanwhile, appears to be the controlling speed.

Aurora Way's tactical foot should at least ensure he stays within striking distance of the potentially distance-compromised State of Honor, who sports a 1-for-13 mark. Can he strike first and repel a late challenge from Tiz a Slam? At 5-1 or higher, I'm willing to find out.

(Photo courtesy of Fort Erie Twitter)