08/07/2011 6:00PM

Woodbine: Pender Harbour takes Breeders' under red-hot Contreras

Michael Burns
Pender Harbour (left) edges Celtic Conviction to win the Breeders' Stakes. His jockey, Luis Contreras, won six races on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Favored Pender Harbour barely held off Celtic Conviction to capture the 120th running of the $503,200 Breeders’ Stakes, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, at Woodbine Sunday.

It was the sixth victory on the card for Luis Contreras, who swept the three Triple Crown races on two different horses. He won the Queen’s Plate on Inglorious, and the Prince of Wales Stakes on the Mike DePaulo-trained Pender Harbour, who became the first horse to win two Triple Crown legs since it’s been contested on three different surfaces, beginning in 2007.

Over a course labeled soft, Born to Boogie and Delawana dueled through fast fractions in the 1 1/2-mile marathon for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. They began to fade late on the far turn, where a host of runners reached contention, including Pender Harbour, who was boxed in along the inside before being angled wide at the head of the stretch.

Pender Harbour seemed poised to edge away after hitting the front near the sixteenth pole, but Celtic Conviction surged late to finish a nose back.
After a long inquiry, Celtic Conviction was disqualified and placed behind Crown’s Path in third for interfering with that one in stretch. Hippolytus finished fourth in a field reduced to 13 with the scratch of Queen’splatekitten.

“I was in a good position, and I tried to keep my position,” said Contreras. “Turning for home, when I put my horse outside and really asked him, he gave me everything. He was a little tired at the end, but I was tired too.”

“I’m a big rail guy,” said DePaulo. “I walked the course this morning, and I thought the rail was pretty good. I thought he should stick to the fence as long as you could, and then angle him out turning for home to get a clear run. That’s what he did in the Prince of Wales, and it worked [again]. For a second, I thought maybe we got beat. We went by [Celtic Conviction], but he fought back on.”

Pender Harbour ($6.20) covered the distance in 2:36.31, and earned $300,000 for owners Dennis Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk and Rob and Roberta Giffin.

* Notacloudinthesky won her stakes debut convincingly under Contreras in Sunday’s supporting feature, the $125,000 Nandi, a six-furlong dash for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Notacloudinthesky dueled for the early lead before pulling away in the stretch to score by seven lengths over I Am in Front in 1:10.22. Trained by Josie Carroll for Donver Stable, Notacloudinthesky returned $4.50 as the slight favorite.