09/01/2012 12:35PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour the headliner on yearling sales stakes day

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Michael Burns
Pender Harbour will be a heavy favorite in the Elgin, one of six yearling sales stakes on Monday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – A photograph of Pender Harbour graces the cover of the catalog for the 2012 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale that will kick off with a selected session starting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Woodbine sales pavilion. Pender Harbour was a $17,000 CTHS yearling purchase who was Canada’s champion 3-year-old male last year and has earned more than $1.1 million, so it is appropriate that he will be on display in the flesh here in Monday’s $125,000 Elgin Stakes.

The Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for colts and geldings, is one of six stakes on the annual yearling sales stakes day for horses who went through the ring at one of the local sales.

Older runners also will compete in the six-furlong Kenora, the Halton over one mile of turf, and the Algoma for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, with those stakes also worth $125,000.

The premium pots of $200,000 are allocated for the 2-year-olds in the Simcoe for colts and geldings and the Muskoka for 2-year-old fillies, with both races at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Trainers of sales stakes winners will receive a $10,000 credit for use at the sale, which will hold its second selected session beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday and an open session starting at 3 p.m. next Saturday.

Pender Harbour, whose stakes wins last season included the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales on the dirt at Fort Erie and the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ on the turf here at Woodbine, will be swinging back two weeks after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Sky Classic over 1 1/4 miles of turf.

Trainer Mike DePaulo sent out the gelding to romp in the restricted Steady Growth over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack on two weeks’ notice this spring.

“This race is hard to pass, at this point,” said DePaulo, who trains Pender Harbour for owners Denny Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk, and Bob and Roberta Giffin.

DePaulo sharpened Pender Harbour with a four-furlong breeze in 48.60 seconds here Wednesday. Pender Harbour will have his regular rider, Luis Contreras, in the irons.

Head Honcho has been pointing to the Elgin since capturing a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles on the main track here Aug. 15.

“His one bad race this year was at 1 3/8 miles on the turf,” trainer Catherine Day Phillips said. “I don’t know if it was just too far for him, or it just wasn’t his day. He’s trained well into this race.”

Justin Stein has picked up the mount on Head Honcho, who was a $100,000 select sales purchase and races for Rocco d’Alimonte and Frank Annecchini.

Work the Stage, trained by Ashlee Brnjas, is cross-entered in the Elgin and Halton and would be a longshot in either situation.

Heading the Halton is Aldous Snow, who is coming off a second-place finish under his regular rider, Eurico Rosa da Silva, in the Aug. 5 Breeders’ Stakes.

“I don’t think shortening up will be a problem,” said Malcolm Pierce, who sent out the 4-year-old Sam-Son Farm homebred to win his first allowance condition over 1 1/16 miles of turf in his start prior to the Breeders’. “Eurico will just have to get him rolling a little earlier. He had a pretty good work last Sunday. He’s sharp and feeling good.”

Aldous Snow went through the ring unsold at his select session and was bought back for $47,000.

Bug’s Boy will be looking to prove that lightning can strike twice after his Halton victory at 74-1 last season.

The oldest competitor in Monday’s sales stakes at age 9, Bug’s Boy’s recent form is uninspiring, but he has worked very well over the turf training course, including a 58.40 bullet under rider David Moran last Sunday.

Menlo Castle, winner of the 2011 Simcoe, could be the horse to beat in the Kenora.

Owned by Conor Healy, the 3-year-old Menlo Castle finished a close second under second-level allowance terms at seven furlongs here Aug. 12.

“He’s pretty sharp,” said trainer Ralph Biamonte, who tried Menlo Castle here in the Plate Trial and in Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales with disappointing results. “He’s got speed. He went to the lead last time, but it was slow-paced.”

Luis Contreras rode Menlo Castle for the first time Aug. 12 and retains the mount. Menlo Castle sold for $20,000 at the open session of the yearling sale.

Casa Loma is cross-entered in the Kenora and the Algoma and would be a contender in either spot.

Awesome Fire became a stakes winner when defeating fellow Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies in the Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf and will be looking to double up in the Algoma.

“I don’t like the cutback,” said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to Awesome Fire’s trainer, Nick Gonzalez. “The last time we cut her back, they killed us; they were just turtling on the front end.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson regains the mount on Awesome Fire. Chantal Sutherland, sister of the filly’s owner, Hugh Sutherland, flew in from California for the Wonder Where mount.

Awesome Fire went through the ring at the select sale, but her $7,000 reserve was not attained.

The other stakes winners in the Algoma lineup are It’s Gail, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Eternal Search for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies for trainer Bob Tiller last time out, and Rose and Shine, who captured last year’s Muskoka for Biamonte.