10/19/2012 2:28PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour goes after Bunty Lawless repeat

Michael Burns
Pender Harbour comes into the Bunty Lawless off this victory in the Elgin on Sept. 1.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The durable Pender Harbour will be favored to defend his title in the $125,000 Bunty Lawless, a one-mile Ontario-sired stakes at Woodbine Sunday.

Pender Harbor was voted Canada’s champion 3-year-old in 2011, during which he captured two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown. One of his better performances was a four-length score over soft turf in the Bunty Lawless.

“I thought he ran a great race last year,” said trainer Mike DePaulo. “I put a set of blinkers on him, and off he went. He went to the lead and kept going.”

Pender Harbor has won two of six starts and $253,000 this year. Those two tallies both came in restricted stakes company, including the Sept. 1 Elgin, which was for graduates of local yearling sales. He was a minor player in a pair of Grade 2 turf stakes in the summer.

DePaulo said he gave Pender Harbour a break after the Elgin with the Sunday’s engagement in mind, rather than taking a shot in the Grade 1 Canadian International.

“We were pretty hard on him,” DePaulo said. “He ran in a bunch of races close together and came back in the sales stakes in two weeks. I think we’ll run here and then run back in the Sir Barton Stakes, turn him out, and then start again next year.”

DePaulo was pleased with Pender Harbour’s five-furlong breeze in 1:02 on the Polytrack last Monday, under jockey Luis Contreras.

“I watched him work the other day and thought he went real good,” said DePaulo. “He breezed into a bloody hurricane. It was really windy.”

Welloiledmachine was a little slow to come around this year. He won a nine-furlong optional claimer in front-running style on the Polytrack July 28, and then took the restricted Halton Stakes at a mile on the grass Sept. 3.

Welloiledmachine had no obvious excuses when he came up empty most recently in the seven-furlong Overskate Stakes, which may simply have been too short for him.

Bug’s Boy checked in fourth at a big price in both the Overskate and Halton, which he won at 74-1 last year. He didn’t handle the boggy going during an eighth-place finish in last year’s Bunty Lawless.

Reconnect is the lone female in the field. She chased a sharp Moonlit Beauty home in her last two stakes excursions, ending up second in the Victoriana and third in the Classy ‘N Smart.

Celtic Connection was beaten a pole last time out in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, not long after he finished third in the Halton.

Good Better Best, Mey’s Rocket, and Crushin Hard were supplemented for $2,500 apiece.