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Sep 23, 2011

PA Derby invaded from the Great White North

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Bensalem, PA (Sports Network) - Leading Canadian three-year-old male horse Pender Harbour is set to come into the United States for Saturday's 22nd edition of the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. The gelding has impressive credentials that should not be overlooked.

Pender Harbour is the winner of two of the three races that comprise Canada's version of the Triple Crown. After finishing third as a 15-1 longshot in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine he got up just in time to win the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie near Niagara Falls.

"My horse had a clean trip and he gave me everything he had," said winning jockey Luis Contreras. "I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch and I felt like I could win it."

There was a change of rider for Pender Harbour from the Queen's Plate. In the 1 1/4-mile Plate the gelding had Chantal Sutherland in the saddle. Contreras was aboard the filly Inglorious in the Plate which proved to a winning combination.

"My horse showed a lot of heart," said victorious trainer Mike DePaulo after taking his second career Prince of Wales. "This gelding may be one of the best horses I?ve ever trained. His sire is by Kris S. and that's a good sign that he will take to the grass."

For the third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown, $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, Contreras and Pender Harbour duplicated their nose victory from the Prince of Wales. The gelding was sitting mid-pack in the 13-horse field and was able to put in a winning drive to capture the 1 1/2-mile grass stakes.

"He was comfortable all the way. I just tried to keep him in the race," Contreras noted following the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine. "I was in a good position, and I tried to keep my position. Turning for home, when I put my horse outside and really asked him, he gave me everything. He was a little tired at the end, but I was tired too."

Contreras made history by claiming the Triple Crown aboard two different horses on three types of surfaces, synthetic, dirt and turf.

"I want to say thank you to everybody for their support. All the trainers, the owners, they made me do this," the victorious jockey exclaimed. "That's the best thing that happened to me. I was excited before, but this is absolutely amazing."

Owned in part by Bob Griffin, Pender Harbour was the 2-1 favorite in the Breeders' Stakes and has the inside track to be named Canada's champion three- year-old colt or gelding.

"It's a tremendous feeling to have a horse of this quality. We bought him at the yearling sale here at Woodbine and then to go on and do what he has done after having to overcome some little problems over the winter, he's a tremendous horse," Griffin said after winning the Breeders' Stakes. "I would like to thank Mike DePaulo and the whole De Paulo family for all they've done. I'd also like to thank the jockey."

Saturday's start in the PA Derby will be the gelding's first venture outside of Canada. In fact he's never started anywhere other than the province of Ontario.

The break from the Breeders' Stakes to the PA Derby will be about seven weeks for the gelding. He had his final workout on Monday at Woodbine when he went five-furlongs in 1:00 2/5.

Somewhat surprisingly Pender Harbour is just 12-1 in the PA Derby morning- line. He has earned $851,797 in eight career starts with four wins. He's hit the board in his last four starts and seven of eight lifetime.

"The Plate was a great race for him," DePaulo said at Woodbine. "The distance between the Plate and the Victoria Park was only two weeks so we were asking a lot. And then the race at Fort Erie, he showed his power."

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