06/21/2011 1:11PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour gets final Queen's Plate work

Michael Burns
Pender Harbour works five furlongs in 1:02 on Tuesday at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Pender Harbour, who thrust himself back into the Queen’s Plate picture with a fourth-place finish here in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park Stakes on June 12, tuned up for Sunday’s $1 million showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here Tuesday morning. With jockey Luis Contreras in the irons, Pender Harbour worked five furlongs in 1:02 under the watchful eyes of trainer Mike DePaulo and owners Denny Andrews and Bob Giffin.

“That put a little wind into him,” DePaulo said. “It was excellent. I asked Luis for 1:01 and change, and he was almost right on.”

Pender Harbour was 2 for 3 last year, including an impressive victory in the restricted 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie Stakes here Nov. 27. But after having to undergo surgery and remain in Ontario over the winter, Pender Harbour got a late start to his campaign and did not race until May 13, when he finished a troubled 10th in a restricted second-level allowance race at six furlongs.

Pender Harbour had not even been kept eligible for the Queen’s Plate at the May 1 stage, but he began to come to hand quickly after his seasonal bow and was entered in the Victoria Park.

“That looked to be a pretty tough race,” said DePaulo, who had watched Pender Harbour finish just two lengths back with Contreras aboard. “He certainly finished strong, and he galloped out real good. His numbers are close enough to put him in the top five (for the Queen’s Plate). He’s a sturdy horse, big and strong. He should get the mile and a quarter.”

With Contreras committed to probable third choice Inglorious for the Queen’s Plate, Chantal Sutherland was recruited for Pender Harbour. Sutherland was the leading stakes-winning rider here last year but decided to stay in California rather than return to Ontario this spring.

Queen’s Plate candidates Pender Harbour, Maple Leaf Kitten, and Seawatch all currently are ineligible for the Queen’s Plate and would have to be supplemented at a cost of $25,000 when entries are taken Thursday morning.

Omar Moreno has picked up the mount on Maple Leaf Kitten, who is based in Kentucky with trainer Joe Woodard. Moreno, Canada’s champion apprentice jockey of 2009 and winner of both the Sovereign and Eclipse Awards in the category last year, will be riding in the Queen’s Plate for the first time.

Maple Leaf Kitten, claimed for $75,000 at Gulfstream from his second career appearance on March 9, won his maiden over one mile of turf at Indiana Downs on June 8 while adding blinkers in his third start for his new connections. The colt rallied from last place in the field of 10 and finished strongly to prevail by a head.In his previous outing, Maple Leaf Kitten also was running on end when finishing second, beaten a half-length, in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs.“We had the Queen’s Plate kind of in the back of our minds the whole time,” said Woodard, who will be saddling his first starter in the race. “It’s been kind of a project to get him to get his mind on his business and start running. He’s starting to catch on. I’ve looked at the PPs and I kind of like my shot in there, to be honest with you.”

Emile Ramsammy has picked up the mount on Imhotep, a maiden trained by Todd Pletcher who was beaten 11 1/4 lengths as the sixth-place finisher in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial. Imhotep was making his third start there, with his best effort to date coming in his debut over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Gulfstream on March 5.

Owned and bred by Zayat Stable, Imhotep has been in trainer Brian Lynch’s barn here since the Plate Trial and breezed four furlongs in 49.40 last Sunday.Ramsammy has won Queen’s Plates with Victory Cooley in 1996 and Edenwold in 2006. Pletcher scored with Archers Bay, his first Queen’s Plate starter, in 1998 and also will be represented by leading contender Queens’platekitten in Sunday’s renewal.