08/17/2012 12:53PM

Woodbine: Scalo, German import, to face champion Pender Harbour in Sky Classic

Michael Burns
Pender Harbour was third after a wide trip in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes on July 22 after finishing second in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Group 1-winning German runner Scalo, who recently took up residence at Woodbine, will likely be favored in Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Sky Classic Stakes. The 10-furlong turf event has also lured the versatile champion Pender Harbour, along with full brothers Hotep and Eye of the Leopard, both trained by Malcolm Pierce.

A 5-year-old trained by Andreas Woehler, Scalo has won 6 of 11 starts, including the Group 1 Preis von Europa in 2010. Perhaps the highlight of his 2011 campaign was a second-place finish in a July 24 stakes behind the brilliant filly Danedream, who subsequently took the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Scalo could manage only fourth as the heavy favorite in his lone appearance this year, which came in a Group 3 stakes in June. He is going on Lasix, and is scheduled to remain here for two Grade 1 stakes, the Northern Dancer Turf in September and the Canadian International in October.

Pender Harbour, last year’s Canadian champion 3-year-old, was third after a wide trip July 22 in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes, which came on the heels of a second in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes on the Polytrack.

“We had run him twice in a month, which is always tough to do, and he ran a pretty good race last time,” said trainer Mike DePaulo. “He might have moved a little early and got beat a length and three-quarters.”

Hotep closed for second while beaten a neck by Riding the River in the nine-furlong Nijinsky after altering course in the stretch under Patrick Husbands.

“I thought he ran a good race,” Pierce said. “Patrick was going inside, and then he had to go outside. [Riding the River] ran a big race, and we didn’t get beat very far. Another few jumps and maybe we were the winner. It seems like he’s got a whole different style this year. He relaxes, lays back, and makes a big run. I don’t think a mile and a quarter will be a question anymore.”

Eye of the Leopard, another Sam-Son Farm homebred, captured the 2009 Queen’s Plate and was the champion 3-year-old that year. He prevailed in a nine-furlong optional claimer in just his second grass start ever July 14.

“Both horses have really shined since I put them on the turf,” said Pierce. “Eye of the Leopard got the job done against not a bad field of horses. He had been running in some tougher spots. He ran into Wise Dan at Keeneland and Hunters Bay here. They were actually good races for him, so he had some company relief last time. He had trained really well on the grass.”

Forte Dei Marmi mounted a mild wide bid from far back last time when he was sixth in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup. He was previously third in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico.

The June 16 Colonial Turf Cup produced four next-out winners, including Smart Bid, who was second in last year’s Sky Classic.