Multiple stakes-winning Woodbine veterans Pender Harbour and Riding the River appear to be the most promising choices in a field of nine set for the June 23 King Edward Stakes Presented by TVG (Can-IIT).
Named for Edward VII of the United Kingdom, who was crowned king in 1901, the historic race was first contested in 1903.
Pender Harbour, Canada's champion 3-year-old of 2011, is trained by Michael De Paulo for Dennis Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk, and Rob and Roberta Giffin. The son of Philanthropist—Uproar, by Hail the Ruckus is looking for his third straight victory in the King Edward, but will have to overcome the challenge of racing off an eight-month layoff.
In his most recent start, Pender Harbour took the restricted Bunty Lawless Stakes on the Woodbine turf last October for the second straight year. The versatile 5-year-old chestnut gelding, who has won on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces, notched his two biggest scores during his championship season in the 2011 Breeders' Stakes (turf at Woodbine) and Prince of Wales Stakes (dirt at Fort Erie). In all, he boasts a record of 8-2-2 from 18 starts, including seven stakes wins, for earnings of $1,298,688.
Bred in Ontario by Gardiner Farms Limited, Pender Harbour was a $15,783 purchase at the 2009 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) Canadian-bred yearling sale. Carrying 119 pounds, he will be ridden for the first time by Eurico Da Silva in the King Edward and the pair will break from post 3.
Riding the River, carrying top weight of 123 pounds, will attempt to defend his title in last year's King Edward, when he made a six-wide bid and prevailed by a neck at odds of 13-1. The 6-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry, out of the Rubiano mare Glow Ruby Go, also captured last year's Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT). He is trained by David Cotey for Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR, and Linmac Farm.
Last year's champion grass horse in Canada, Riding the River, who has already defied his modest $3,500 yearling price, has placed in three other graded stakes at Woodbine. He has carved out a career slate of 8-3-2 from 21 starts and has earned $721,564 for his connections.
The bay gelding will enter the King Edward after rallying gamely for a close runner up finish to Something Extra in his 2013 debut, the May 26 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-IIT). He breaks from post 2 under Todd Kabel, who was aboard for the Connaught Cup and both of his graded stakes scores.
Dual graded stakes winner Prospective seems to pose the biggest threat to Pender Harbour and Riding the River. The son of Malibu Moon took the 2012 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) before running unplaced in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He has since gotten back on track, winning last year's Ohio Derby (gr. III), plus the Victoria Park Stakes at Woodbine and the Delta Mile at Delta Downs.
In his most recent start, Prospective was third in an April 21 allowance contest over Woodbine's synthetic surface. He is trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley, a dynamic duo that has already teamed to campaign three stakes winners this month: graded victors Delightful Mary and Funny Proposition, plus stakes winner Northern Passion. The last two mentioned won June 15.
Rounding out the King Edward field are Woodbine stakes winners Hotep and Incredicat and graded stakes-placed runner Any Given Royal; stakes winner Lockout; and allowance victors Valentino Beauty and So Long George.
$200,000 King Edward Stakes Presented by TVG (gr. IIT, approximate post time 4:22 p.m. EDT), 3YOs and up, one mile (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1. Valentino Beauty (KY), E S Prado, 117, B J Minshall
2. Riding the River (KY), T Kabel, 123, D Cotey
3. Pender Harbour (ON), E R Da Silva, 119, M P De Paulo
4. Incredicat (ON), S R Bahen, 119, I Black
5. So Long George (KY), T Pizarro, 117, J Charalambous
6. Hotep (ON), E Wilson, 117, M Pierce
7. Prospective (KY), L Contreras, 122, M E Casse
8. Lockout (KY), G Boulanger, 119, M E Casse
9. Any Given Royal (KY), J M Campbell, 117, R B Martin