08/08/2011 1:12PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour shows nose for wire in Canadian Triple Crown

Michael Burns
Pender Harbour (left) wins the Breeders' Stakes by a nose over Crown's Path.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Pender Harbour wasn’t quite ready for the question in the Queen’s Plate as he finished third here in that June 26 race at 1 1/4 miles.

But Pender Harbour has done everything asked of him since then, winning the final two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown by a grand total of two noses under rider Luis Contreras.

“He has a rich nose,” said trainer Mike DePaulo, who sent out Pender Harbour to capture Fort Erie’s $500,000 Prince of Wales at 1 3/16 miles on the dirt and last Sunday’s Breeders’ Stakes here over 1 1/2 miles of turf by the most narrow of margins.

Pender Harbour, purchased for $17,000 at the local yearling sale, had won his final two starts as a 2-year-old, including the 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie Stakes, but then underwent surgery that kept him in Canada for the off season.

And after getting a late start to his 2011 campaign, Pender Harbour had not been kept eligible for the Queen’s Plate at the May 1 nomination stage and seemed to validate that decision when finishing eighth in his six-furlong seasonal bow here May 13.

DePaulo had been looking at racing Pender Harbour in another restricted allowance racem but co-owner Dennis Andrews, who stands the gelding’s sire, Philanthropist, preferred a more ambitious placing.

That turned out to be the Victoria Park, an open race at 1 1/8 miles here June 12 in which Pender Harbour finished third and prompted his connections to ante up the $25,000 supplementary fee for the Queen’s Plate.

“Running the horse back two weeks later certainly wasn’t planned,” DePaulo said. “It was more of an afterthought.”

Now, Pender Harbour has become the first horse to win more than one leg of the Canadian Triple Crown since the Queen’s Plate was first run on Polytrack here in 2007 and a synthetic-dirt-turf series was born.

“That’s a tough thing to do,” said DePaulo, adding that Pender Harbour has held up well through the Triple Crown grind and that even when rain led to a soft turf course for the Breeders’ he was not overly concerned.

“I knew he was one of the fittest horses in the race, after running in all those races,” DePaulo said.

“He’s a very rateable horse, and I knew Luis would give him a big ride. He’s a trying son of a gun.”

DePaulo’s intention there was to refer to Pender Harbour, but he also allowed that the same compliment should be paid to Contreras, who was adding yet another feather to his cap after winning the first five races on Sunday’s card, including the $125,000 Nandi Stakes.

Contreras heads into the current week atop the jockey standings in all categories, with a total of 119 wins, including 16 stakes, and purses of $7 million.

The Breeders’ also gave Contreras the distinction of becoming the first jockey to win all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown with more than one horse as he piloted the filly Inglorious to victory in the Queen’s Plate.

Pender Harbour is scheduled to get a breather now, but DePaulo will be keeping an eye on the $150,000 Ontario Derby, an open race for 3-year-olds here Sept. 24.

“He might go to the farm for a week, and we’ll see what’s going on from there,” DePaulo said.

In the meantime, Pender Harbour has banked $832,020 from just eight starts to become the richest horse campaigned by both DePaulo and his owners.

“I knew he could run when he was 2, but I wouldn’t have thought he was this good,” said DePaulo, whose top previous money-winner was Shillelagh Slew, who earned $827,997 in a 17-race career that included wins in the Prince of Wales and Ontario Derby and a Sovereign Award as champion 3-year-old male.

“He’s been a great thrill, and the owners are good people.”

Bob Giffin, speaking for the Alberta-based ownership group, had even higher praise for Pender Harbour.

“He’s one in a lifetime,” Giffin said.

Carroll wins two weekend stakes

Trainer Josie Carroll accounted for the weekend’s other stakes races as she sent out Notacloudinthesky to romp in the Nandi after James Street had prevailed when making his first start for the stable in Saturday’s Grade 2, $161,100 Seagram Cup.

Notacloudinthesky, making her third career start for the Donver Stable of Donna and Vern Dubinsky, had won her maiden over 5 1/2 furlongs here July 17 and scored by seven lengths when traveling six furlongs in the Nandi. All of her appearances have come in Ontario-sired company.

“I thought she was very professional,” Carroll said. “She’s starting to grow up a little bit. She was running greenly in her first two races.”

Notacloudinthesky, who went through the local select yearling sale and was purchased for $10,000, will be pointed to the 6 1/2-furlong Muskoka, one of six $125,000 stakes for graduates of the sales here Sept. 5.

James Street became a stakes winner under regular rider Patrick Husbands in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup.

A Kentucky-homebred 4-year-old who races for Eugene Melnyk, James Street made the first 12 starts of his career for trainer Mark Casse and had finished second when making his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Dominion Day at 1 1/4 miles here July 1.

“Obviously, I watched all of his other races after I got him,” Carroll said.

“I thought he was a very nice horse, and I actually liked going back to a mile and a sixteenth. He’d obviously done well at the distance.”

James Street’s four career wins all have come at 1 1/16 miles, and he has finished second in two of his other three starts at the distance.

The next main-track stakes race for the division here is the Oct. 2 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

“That’s a long way off,” said Carroll, adding that she will be conferring with Melnyk regarding their next move with James Street.

Court of the Realm disappoints

Court of the Realm, who was the 4-5 favorite while seeking his sixth straight win in the Seagram Cup, wound up 5 3/4 lengths behind the winner in sixth place after setting a slow but pressured pace under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva.

“He came out of the race good,” said Peter Berringer, who trains the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old for Oxbridge Farm and Aurora Meadows.

“It just didn’t set up for us.”

Court of the Realm became a stakes winner in his start prior to the Seagram Cup, capturing the Grade 2 King Edward while coming from just off the pace over one mile of turf.

Berringer plans to bring back Court of the Realm in the Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf stakes here Aug. 28.