TORONTO, September 22 – Pender Harbour, the son of Philanthropist who took the final two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, is ready to contest the Grade 2, $1-million Pennsylvania Derby, Saturday in Philadelphia.
Coming off two gutsy performances, starting with a nose nod in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales Stakes on July 17 at Fort Erie, followed by a nose victory in the 1 ½-mile Breeders’ Stakes over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course on August 7, Pender Harbour now sets his sights on the 1 1/8-mile Penn Derby.
While the race has attracted a quality field of nine, including 5-2 morning line favourite Ruler On Ice, To Honor and Serve (3-1) and Rattlesnake Bridge (4-1), trainer Mike De Paulo expects the chestnut gelding to come up with a strong showing.
“He’s doing really well,” said De Paulo, of the lifetime winner of four races from eight starts. “We’re going to take a shot. He’s doing great. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and more. Hopefully, he can come up with another big one in Philly.”
Pender Harbour, who won two races from three starts in his two-year-old campaign, endured a rough ride in his seasonal bow on May 13, a six-furlong allowance race on the Toronto oval Polytrack.
After finishing fourth in the Victoria Park Stakes, just two lengths behind Moonshine Mullin, the Ontario-bred finished third in the Queen’s Plate on June 26.
Sent off at 4-1 in the Prince of Wales, Pender Harbour, under Luis Contreras, got up in time to take the $500,000 event for his first win since the 2010 Kingarvie.
Fourteen lengths behind in the early going of the Breeders’, Pender Harbour rallied stoutly down the long Woodbine turf stretch to eke out his second consecutive victory, a feat he accomplished in his 2010 campaign.
De Paulo doesn’t mind reliving either moment.
“When you look back, see all the pictures and remember the races, it’s a great feeling,” said the veteran conditioner, who saw Pender Harbour off Thursday morning, before making his way to Philadelphia this evening. “You take a look at both and those were two pretty impressive races.
“It’s hard to say which one was the better effort of the two. When he won the Prince of Wales, it was just unbelievable. Then he came back on turf, a surface he had only breezed on once, and gutted out a big win. Really, it’s a toss-up as to which one was his best race.”
De Paulo hopes the horse known as “Skippy” around his barn can produce his most memorable score this weekend.
“I don’t care if it’s a short nose or long nose,” laughed De Paulo. “If he wins, we’d all be thrilled.”
Pender Harbour is owned by Robert and Roberta Giffin, Denny Andrews and Sandra Lazaruk.
Canadian racing fans can watch the race on TV’s throughout Woodbine (live racing at the Toronto oval starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, highlighted by the Ontario Derby Stakes), on HPI, Woodbine teletheatres or at WEGZ Stadium Bar.
$1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II, Race 11, 5:45 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Ruler On Ice (KY), G K Gomez, 124, K J Breen, 5/2
2. Arthur’s Tale (KY), A Garcia, 114, T Albertrani, 12/1
3. Pender Harbour (ON), L Contreras, 119, M P De Paulo, 12/1
4. Norman Asbjornson (PA), J Pimentel, 114, C W Grove, 12/1
5. Rush Now (KY), 114, No Rider, A W Dutrow, 9/2
6. Isn’t He Perfect (KY), 114, No Rider, D Shivmangal, 20/1
7. To Honor and Serve (KY), J Lezcano, 114, W I Mott, 3/1
8. J W Blue (KY), C H Velasquez, 114, A W Dutrow, 8/1
9. Rattlesnake Bridge (KY), J R Velazquez, 119, K P McLaughlin, 4/1
FIELD FOR THE ONTARIO DERBY
Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / Moonshine Mullin / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Reade Baker
2 / Silverleo / Slade Callaghan / Dan Vella
3 / Derby Kitten / Mike Smith / Michael Maker
4 / Alpha Bettor / Jim McAleney / Dan Vella
5 / Pender Harbour / Luis Contreras / Mike De Paulo (running in Penn Derby)
6 / Nanaimo / Richard Dos Ramos / Barb Minshall
7 / Hippolytus / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
8 / Bowman’s Causeway / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Chad Brown
9 / Oh Canada / Omar Moreno / Robert Tiller