And the Winner is… Harlem Rocker!
On Sunday 13 July 2008, a field of seven horses got ready for the running of the $500 000 Prince of Wales Stakes. Known as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, many spectators were anxious to see if Not Bourbon, winner of the Queen’s Plate, would be able to pull off another magnificent victory. The Fort Erie Racetrack was about to become the venue of a heartbreaking day for some and surprise for others, as the starting gates for the 2008 Prince of Wales Stakes swung open.
Roger Attfield, had been pacing nervously since the time Not Bourbon had been saddled. Even though he would have been proud to take home a sixth win at the Prince of Wales Stakes, he knew that something was amiss with Not Bourbon. Usually Not Bourbon gets pretty excited before a race, sweating a little during his warm up, but none of that was evident before the race on Sunday and his jockey Jono Jones later commented that he never got comfortable throughout the race. The Canadian Triple Crown hopeful seemed to be in trouble even before the start of the racing event.
Because of Harlem Rocker’s distaste of being in the front of the pack, his jockey, Eibar Coa, kept him in fifth position into the first turn, with Pewter leading the field and Pronger, Sebastian’s Song and Not Bourbon fighting for positions. Coa kept a close eye on the horses and decided to take a change in overtaking the rest of the field on the outside, to avoid the position battle ahead of him. But while Coa and Harlem Rocker were executing their daring move, Not Bourbon was being pushed to the rail and the obviously tired horse was not challenging them at all. Once in the home stretch, Coa asked Harlem Rocker to give a last bit of effort towards the finish line, and crossed over with little effort, followed by East End Tap, Pronger, Sebastian’s Song, Deputiformer, Not Bourbon and Pewter.
Even though Harlem Rocker performed magnificently in the seventy-third running of the Prince of Wales Stakes, it is highly unlikely that racing fans will see him at the Breeder’s Stakes on the 3rd of August, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. And even though there will not be a horse claiming the Triple Crown this year, there will still be breathtaking racing events to look forward to, and there will always be next year.