Odds-on choice Hunters Bay had no problem with the 1 1/4-mile distance in his first try, putting away Pender Harbour in deep stretch to post a one-length victory in the $204,961 Dominion Day Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine July 1 (VIDEO).
Coming off a three-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) in his most recent start May 26, Stronach Stables' homebred Hunters Bay has now won three races in a row and four of his past five.
Reade Baker trains the winning 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper out of the Smoke Glacken mare Smok'n Frolic.
Ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, Hunters Bay closed on the outside to tackle Pender Harbour, Canada's champion 3-year-old male in 2011, and eventually wore his rival down. The final time was a slow 2:04.11 on the Polytrack.
Hunters Bay showed talent before going to the sidelines last May but has put it together this season with three wins and a second from four starts. He made his stakes debut in the Eclipse. Overall, Hunters Bay has six wins and three seconds in 11 lifetime starts while earning $400,213.
Baker said Hunters Bay may take his show on the road next time out.
"We'll probably go to the Whitney (gr. I) at Saratoga or possibly the Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar," said Baker. "He's got speed and endurance and that's all you need."
Just five contested the Dominion Day with the scratch of Newsdad. Hunters Bay was made the 7-10 favorite.
Straight Story, breaking from the rail, went to the lead for Jesse Campbell and they set a crawling pace while leading Pender Harbour and Hunters Bay. Quarter-mile fractions for the first six furlongs were :25.42, :50.75, and 1:15.35. At that point, Luis Contreras, aboard Pender Harbour, could wait no longer and they took over from Straight Story heading into the far turn.
Pender Harbour rounded the bend with the lead but Hunters Bay was never far behind and he made his bid in upper stretch. Hunters Bay appeared to bump with Pender Harbour under right-handed encouragement from Wilson, who managed to get the big bay straightened out for the drive without further incident. Hunters Bay got control near the sixteenth pole and edged clear in the final strides.
"He's so easy to handle," said Wilson. "If you ask him to sit, he sits. If you ask him to move on up, he moves on up. Having that tactical ability makes it easier to ride these kinds of races."
Stately Victor finished third under Rosie Napravnik, 7 1/2 lengths behind Pender Harbour. Medidocihospisurg was next while Straight Story was pulled up and vanned off.
Hunters Bay carried 121 pounds and paid $3.40 and $2.40, while Pender Harbour returned $3.40. There was no show wagering. The exacta was worth $10.60.