08/05/2011 12:30PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour switches to turf for final leg of Canadian Triple Crown

Michael Burns
A Breeders' win would give Pender Harbour two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown and his jockey, Luis Contreras, a sweep of all three races.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Prince of Wales Stakes winner Pender Harbour will experiment on the grass in the 120th running of the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the final race of the Canadian Triple Crown at Woodbine on Sunday.

The mile and a half Breeders’, for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, is likely to have 13 starters after losing a major contender Friday when trainer Todd Pletcher said he wasn’t sending the Saratoga-based Queen’splatekitten, because he didn’t like the way that the horse was doing. Queen’splatekitten has been idle since finishing fifth in the June 26 Plate.

The field also doesn’t include Queen’s Plate winner Inglorious, who bypassed the rest of the Triple Crown to prepare for the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga. Luis Contreras, who rode Inglorious in the Plate and Pender Harbour in the Wales, will seek a personal Triple Crown sweep when he rides Pender Harbour back on Sunday.

Contreras was aboard when Pender Harbour breezed five-eighths in 1:00.60 over the turf training course last Sunday for trainer Mike DePaulo.

“He went slow early, and finished real good,” said DePaulo. “He handled the grass real well. He has a lower kind of stride. He scoped good, and his blood’s good. We’ve got no excuses.”

DePaulo said Pender Harbour had surgery after taking the Nov. 27 Kingarvie Stakes, which led to a late start to his campaign, during which he’s improved with every start.

“He had a chip taken out of his knee,” DePaulo said. “That’s what set him way behind. He only got beat two lengths to Moonshine Mullin in the Victoria Park Stakes, which is a good frame of reference. That horse had run all winter, and we were making our second start. He ran good in the Plate, and may not have gotten a clean trip. [Contreras] kept him out of trouble on the outside in the Prince of Wales, and he came smoking home.”

Celtic Conviction, victorious in last year’s Cup and Saucer Stakes, performed well in two of his three outings this year. He gave heavily-favored Clement Rock a run for his money most recently in the open Toronto Cup Stakes, a nine-furlong route which he lost by a neck.

Trainer Mike Doyle said a mile and a half is within the range of Celtic Conviction, who should be forwardly placed over what figures to be firm ground.

“He looks to me like he just keeps going,” Doyle said. “He likes to be in amongst horses, too. I don’t think he’ll be in front, but he’ll probably be up there somewhere close. I think firm ground is big for him.”

Trainer Mark Casse entered three runners, including the 61-1 Plate runner-up Hippolytus, who was a fading fourth in the Wales. Like Pender Harbour, Hippolytus is a son of second-year sire Philanthropist, who ran fifth in his lone grass start in a 10-furlong optional claimer at Belmont, and has yet to sire a grass winner.

Seawatch, a stablemate of Inglorious, is trying the turf for the first time off a sixth-place finish in the Plate. The son of Woodman finished just behind Pender Harbour in fifth in the June 12 Victoria Park.

Seawatch and Born to Boogie were both supplemented at a cost of $12,500.