Luis Contreras will attempt to become the first jockey to win all three jewels of Canada's Triple Crown with different horses when he rides Pender Harbour in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes on the Woodbine turf Aug. 7.
Contreras, the leading jockey at Woodbine this season by a wide margin, won Canada's most famous race, the Queen's Plate, aboard the filly Inglorious on Woodbine's Polytrack June 26. The 25-year-old native of Mexico returned in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie July 17 with a nose victory aboard Pender Harbour on a natural dirt surface.
They are teamed once again in the 12-furlong Breeders' Stakes. Pender Harbour, trained by Michael De Paulo, will make his grass debut.
"I think the question mark for everyone in the race is the mile and a half distance," De Paulo said. "He's coming into the race in great shape and we're going to hope for the best."
If Contreras can win, he'd be the first jockey to accomplish the feat on different horses since the Triple Crown system was initiated in Canada in 1959.
“Winning the Oaks and the Queen’s Plate (both aboard Inglorious) was a thrill of a lifetime," said Contreras, who has 112 wins at the meet through Aug. 3. "To win the Triple Crown on both of these horses would be something I would remember forever.”
Fourteen Canadian-foaled colts and geldings, all bred in Ontario, were entered Aug. 4 for the Breeders' Stakes. The race is the eighth on the Woodbine program with a listed starting time of 4:31 p.m. EDT.
Pender Harbour, a gelding by Philanthropist, is owned by Dennis Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk, and Rob and Roberta Giffin. The chestnut ran third in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, defeated by 4 1/2 lengths by Inglorious, before hanging together at odds of 4-1 in a gritty stretch duel with Bowman's Causeway in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales.
A three-time winner from seven starts, Pender Harbour captured his first stakes since last year’s Kingarvie on the Woodbine main track. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 over the Woodbine turf training track on July 31 and breaks from post 9.
“Pender Harbour loves a good fight,” said Contreras. “He showed his class in the Prince of Wales. He wasn't going to get beat. He is getting more confident with each start. His last work was scary good.”
Contreras, who has 14 stakes victories near the mid-point of the long Woodbine season, admitted he is a little excited at the chance to put his name in the history books.
“I try not to get nervous,” he said. “I ask all the horses I ride to relax. So it wouldn't be fair if I was nervous.”
Queen'splatekitten was given a little breather by trainer Todd Pletcher after a fifth-place finish in the Queen's Plate. He has shown some ability on turf and could offer the biggest obstacle to Contreras and Pender Harbour.
Mill House's son of Kitten's Joy won a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream on grass in February and followed that with a runner-up finish in the nine-furlong Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the same course March 12. Eurico Rosa Da Silva, who guided Queen'splatekitten to a three-length win in Woodbine's Marine Stakes on Polytrack May 21, regains the mount.
Queen'splatekitten is favored at 3-1 on the morning line. Pender Harbour is pegged at 7-2.
Hippolytus, like Pender Harbour, makes his turf bow here. Also a son of Philanthropist, he ran second in the Queen's Plate at odds of 61-1 before flattening out late in a fourth-place effort in the Prince of Wales. Mark Casse, the runaway leading trainer at Woodbine this season, saddles Hippolytus, who drew the far outside post, as well as Control and Blackstone Bay.
Control, a son of Survivalist owned and bred by William Farish Jr., ran second in his turf debut against a restricted allowance field going 10 furlongs July 8. Control raced with blinkers for the first time that day and will be without the hood this time. Blackstone Bay comes off a 4 3/4-length romp in a $50,000 maiden claiming test at one mile on grass July 2.
Celtic Conviction has won two of five starts on turf for trainer Michael Doyle and missed by a neck causing a 31-1 upset in Woodbine's Toronto Cup at nine furlongs on grass July 16.
Trainer Roger Attfield looks for his record ninth win in the Breeders' Stakes with the maiden Diego Bay, a Stronach Stables' homebred son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper . Richard Dos Ramos, who has won two of the past three Breeders' Stakes aboard Marlang in 2008 and Miami Deco at record odds of 65-1 last year, has the mount on Diego Bay. Attfield last won the race in 2009 with the 46-1 outsider Perfect Shower.
Sam-Son Farms, which is tied with Winfields Farm and Kinghaven Farms for the most Breeders' Stakes wins with five, is represented by the maiden Stunning Split, a colt by Awesome Again trained by Malcolm Pierce.
Recent maiden grass winners in the field are Crown's Path, Delawana, and Molinaro Remarks.
$500,000 Breeders' Stakes (Race 8, 4:31 p.m.), 3YOs Foaled in Canada, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Delawana (ON), D Moran, M Keogh
2. Stunning Split (ON), J McAleney, M Pierce
3. Queen'splatekitten (ON), E R Da Silva, T A Pletcher
4. Crown's Path (ON), J M Campbell, G de Gannes
5. Control (ON), O Moreno, M E Casse
6. Seawatch (ON), S Callaghan, J Carroll
7. Molinaro Remarks (ON), S R Bahen, V Armata
8. Blackstone Bay (ON), P Husbands, M E Casse
9. Pender Harbour (ON), L Contreras, M P De Paulo
10. Diego Bay (ON), R A Dos Ramos, R L Attfield
11. Celtic Conviction (ON), E Ramsammy, M J Doyle
12. Runaway Whiz (ON), C Fraser, M R Frostad
13. Born to Boogie (ON), J Stein, C Day Phillips
14. Hippolytus (ON), T Pizarro, M E Casse
All carry 126 pounds.
Blinkers Off: Control