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
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
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.