Pender Harbour, who took the final two jewels of the Canadian Triple Crown series in 2011 and went on to cop top honours as the country’s champion three-year-old male, makes his seasonal debut in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse Stakes, at Woodbine.
Owned by Denny Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk and Rob and Roberta Giffin, Pender Harbour, a chestnut son of Philanthropist, posted nose victories in both the Prince of Wales Stakes (Fort Erie) and the Breeders’ Stakes, at Woodbine, after finishing third to Inglorious in the Queen’s Plate.
At season’s end, the Ontario-bred, trained by Mike DePaulo, had won three races from eight starts, accompanied by one second and one third, along with $861,092 in purse earnings.
“You look back at everything he did and it really is impressive,” said DePaulo, of the gelding, who was also a finalist for Horse of the Year honours. “He wasn’t ready to run in the Plate, but he gave a gutsy effort. Those two Triple Crown races he won, those were both fantastic. He won races on dirt (2011 Prince of Wales), Polytrack (2010 Kingarvie) and turf (2011 Breeders’ and Bunty Lawless). He could have gone backwards after the Plate, but he went forward instead.”
The Grade 2 Autumn Stakes, contested on November 12 at the Toronto oval, Pender Harbour’s final race of the year, yielded a second-place finish.
“I thought that race was a good one,” offered DePaulo. “He might have been a little tired. It was a long year and he was taking on older horses.”
Pender Harbour, who spent the winter months at Gail Wood’s Woodlands Farm in Hillsburgh, Ontario, will face 10 horses on Saturday.
“We’re taking on winter-fit and winter-raced horses, but this is in our backyard and he’s training well, too,” said DePaulo.
He’ll also have a big opportunity to reach the seven-figure mark (he’s currently at $971,887).
“That’s something we’d all love to see,” said DePaulo, who watched Pender Harbour win two races from three starts as a two-year-old. “There are so many reasons you could give as to why you’re proud of him. He’s just this big, strong bull of a horse, who always tries. He’s like a truck.”
Pender Harbour’s Eclipse rivals include Todd Pletcher trainee Queen’splatekitten, multiple stakes winner Stunning Stag and 2009 Queen’s Plate champion Eye of the Leopard.
The Eclipse is carded as race eight.
FIELD FOR THE ECLIPSE
Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / Check Your Soul / Alex Solis / Roger Attfield
2 / Stunning Stag / Gerry Olguin / Sid Attard
3 / Pender Harbour / Luis Contreras / Mike DePaulo
4 / Queen’splatekitten / Chris DeCarlo / Todd Pletcher
5 / Hunters Bay / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Reade Baker
6 / James Street / Justin Stein / Josie Carroll
7 / Eye of the Leopard / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Malcolm Pierce
8 / Mister Marti Gras / Jesse Campbell / Chris Block
9 / Hothersal / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
10 / Alpha Bettor / Tyler Pizarro / Dan Vella
11 / City Wolf / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Reade Baker