Pender Harbour will attempt to go farther than he ever has before when he lines up against an expected eight opponents in the $150,000 Valedictory Stakes (Can-III) on closing day of the 2014 Woodbine meet Dec. 7.
The classy 6-year-old gelding has won nine prior stakes races, including two-thirds of the 2011 Canadian Triple Crown, but has never captured a graded event after 10 tries. He'll be attempting the Valedictory's 1 3/4-mile distance over Woodbine's Polytrack for the first time as well Sunday.
Trained by Mike De Paulo for owners Dennis Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk, and Rob and Roberta Giffin, Pender Harbour wouldn't even be here except he was scratched at the post for acting up prior to the Sir Barton Stakes Nov. 30, dumping jockey Patrick Husbands a couple of times. He was supplemented to the Valedictory after he breezed five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 over the Poly the morning of Dec. 3.
Instead of Husbands, regular rider Luis Contreras has the call on the son of Philanthropist in the Valedictory. The Ontario-bred has won 11 of 33 starts while earning $1,655,241 in his career. Making his first start since finishing fourth as the favorite in the Bunty Lawless Stakes Oct. 12, Pender Harbour breaks from post 2 with 121 pounds.
Contreras and Husbands have been waging a tremendous head-and-head battle for the 2014 Woodbine riding title, with Husbands opening up a 165-160 advantage as of Dec. 4.
Husbands winds up on the slumping Manighar, a recent import from Australia looking for a form reversal under new trainer Graham Motion.
French-bred Manighar was a multiple grade I winner of $3,655,522 in Australia but has not won since April 2012, a string of 16 straight defeats. The 8-year-old son of Linamix makes his first start on a synthetic track after 43 consecutive races on grass. Motion won the Valedictory in 2011 with the distance-loving Eagle Poise.
Manighar, who drew the rail, has finished ninth in both of his United States starts, the Fort Marcy (gr. IIIT) and Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIIT).
Lawrence Cordes' Turkish faded in last year's Valedictory after being prominent early. The 5-year-olds on of Istan is on the upswing, however, after an 11-length romp against allowance company going 1 5/8 miles over the track Nov. 15. Emma-Jayne Wilson rides for trainer Tino Attard, who won the Valedictory in 2001 with Queensgate and in 1991 with with Cozzene's Prince.
Claimed by Attard for $40,000 Sept. 27 from Reade Baker, Turkish figures to be among the favorites. He is one of four in the field assigned top weight of 124 pounds.
"I watched Turkish gallop many times and thought about taking him when he galloped by five (Aug. 13) but I missed him. When he came back again for $40,000, I decided it was time to take him," said Attard. "I know the horse likes to go long and I really wanted him to come with me to Florida where he can run long on the grass and the dirt."
Turkish came with a reputation of having a difficult temperament.
"I thought that I would be patient with him and send him out with the pony every day. It costs extra money each day to send him with the pony, but it was worth it," said Attard. "After 10 days with the pony, it was like he (Turkish) said, 'I don't need a pony anymore, I'm yours' Since then, he's trained like a machine."
Trainer Mike Maker entered a trio for Ken and Sarah Ramsey: Cozy Kitten, Royal Blessing, and Bingo Kitten, all homebred sons of the Ramseys' terrific sire Kitten's Joy.
Six-year-old Cozy Kitten, who the Ramseys claimed for $35,000 Aug. 16 at Saratoga Race Course, comes off a sixth-place effort in the Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) over soft turf Oct. 16 at Keeneland. Royal Blessing, also claimed by his breeders for $25,000 Oct. 9 at Belmont Park, ran second that day and makes his first stakes appearance Sunday. Bingo Kitten was most recently fourth in a first-level allowance hear on the Churchill Downs turf Nov. 1, and is also making his stakes debut.
The Valedictory is the 10th of a 13-race card Sunday that brings to an end the marathon eight-month season. There are 157 horses entered on the program, with five also-eligibles.
Woodbine, Sunday, December 07, 2014, Race 10
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Manighar (FR) Patrick Husbands 115 H. Graham Motion - 2 2Pender Harbour (ON) Luis Contreras 121 Michael P. De Paulo - 3 3Cozy Kitten (KY) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 115 Michael J. Maker - 4 4Turkish (KY) Emma-Jayne Wilson 115 Tino Attard - 5 5Royal Blessing (NY) Justin Stein 115 Michael J. Maker - 6 6Marathon Run (ON) Tommy Wong 112 Desmond Maynard - 7 7Desvelo (ARG) David Moran 115 Kelly Rubley - 8 8Quiet Country (ON) Gary Boulanger 113 Bruce R. Smither - 9 9Bingo Kitten (KY) Jesse M. Campbell 115 Michael J. Maker -
Woodbine, Sunday, December 07, 2014, Race 10