11/30/2014 5:22PM

San Nicola Thunder by a head in Sir Barton Stakes

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Michael Burns
San Nicola Thunder, ridden by Jesse Campbell, wins the Sir Barton Stakes on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – San Nicola Thunder narrowly won the $125,000 Sir Barton Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday, after the previous favorite, Pender Harbour, was scratched at the gate.

San Nicola Thunder attended soft fractions set by Spadina Road in the 1 1/16-mile event for Ontario-sired stock. He began to edge away from Spadina Road inside the eighth pole and then held off a surging Freitag to prevail by a head in a slow final time of 1:45.99.

Jesse Campbell got a leg up on San Nicola Thunder from John Cardella, who trains the 4-year-old son of Silent Name for owners Paul Cooper and Joe Pirone.

“When Pender unfortunately got scratched at the gate, I called a little bit of an audible,” Campbell said. “If he breaks sharp, I said I’m going to let him show a little more speed than he usually does because the dynamics of the race changed so much. It was the first time I was on him, and I was very impressed with him. He’s really a game horse.”

Spadina Road finished a close third in the six-horse field. Pender Harbour was 3-5 in the betting when he was withdrawn after acting up badly in the gate.