August 5, 2011 - 12:19 PM
By Gene Kershner
The 121st running of the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds, over 1 1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, will be run Sunday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack. All 14 starters will carry 126 pounds in pursuit of the $300,000 first-place prize in the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
The main story line emanating out of Toronto is the attempt by Luis Contreras to become the first jockey in the Triple Crown era (since 1959) to win all three races with two different horses. He rode the talented filly Inglorious to victory in June in the Queen's Plate and followed that victory with Pender Harbour in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie last month.
Contreras once again picks up the mount on trainer Mike DePaulo's 9-Pender Harbour for the Breeders' and was set as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. The race will be the gelding's first on Woodbine's terrific turf course, one of North America's best.
When I spoke to DePaulo immediately after the Prince of Wales, his main concern heading into the next jewel was not the turf course.
"His sire's sire is Kris S so he should love grass. He is very ratable so he doesn't have to go to the lead," said the conditioner. But can he get the distance? "He's worked well on the grass (July 31, 1:00 3/5, breezing, on the Woodbine turf training track)," said DePaulo. "I think the question mark for everyone in the race is the mile and a half distance. He's coming into the race in great shape and we're going to hope for the best."
A horse that caught my eye viewing the past performances is 11-Celtic Conviction (6-1), who is by Strut the Stage, who had earned more than $1.5 million, mostly in turf route races. Strut the Stage's sire was Theatrical (IRE), another fine turf sire who shows a Breeders' Cup Turf victory in his record. Emile Ramsammy has the mount for trainer Michael Doyle for the chestnut gelding who finished a neck out of the winner's circle in the $150K Toronto Cup last month.
If you are looking for a long-shot play, I can make a case for 8-Blackstone Bay (20-1) and the powerful trainer/jockey combination of Mark Casse and Patrick Husbands. The Stormy Atlantic sophomore broke his maiden last out with an impressive victory and stretches out for the first time.
Not only is Contreras attempting to make his mark in the history books, but several others will be seeking milestones in the Breeders'.
A win on Sunday aboard 20-1 long shot 10-Diego Bay would move Richard Dos Ramos into a three-way tie, with Sandy Hawley and Robin Platts, for most wins by a jockey in this race, with four. Roger Attfield, who has won the Breeders' a record eight times, trains the bay Ghostzapper colt who is still a maiden after three lifetime starts. His best effort came in his most recent start, when rallying to fourth in a 1 1/4-mile turf tilt won by 80-1 shot 1-Delawana (12-1), who is also entered in the Breeders'.
Sam-Son Farm is also in line for a record-breaking sixth Breeders' victory as trainer Malcolm Pierce sends out their maiden homebred 2-Stunning Split (15-1).
Queens'platekitten scratched out of the race on Friday morning.
Post Time Outlook: 1 - Celtic Conviction; 2 - Pender Harbour; 3 - Blackstone Bay.
||Eurico Rosa Da Silva
||Greg de Gannes
||Richard Dos Ramos
||Born to Boogie
||Catherine Day Phillips
* -- Scratched.
Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.