TORONTO - Luis Contreras will look to make Canadian thoroughbred racing history Sunday at the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes.
A victory in the 1 1/2-mile turf event at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack would make the 25-year-old Mexican-born jockey the first ever to capture all three Canadian Triple Crown races aboard different mounts. Contreras guided filly Inglorious to the finish line in the $1-million Queen's Plate in June before capturing the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes aboard Pender Harbour last month at Fort Erie Racetrack.
On Sunday, Contreras will take Pender Harbour to the starter's gate in the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. Contreras also won the Woodbine Oaks aboard Inglorious at Woodbine on June 5.
"It's exciting to win any major stakes race," said Contreras. "Winning the Oaks and the Queen's Plate was a thrill of a lifetime.
"To win the Triple Crown on both of these horses would be something I would remember forever. I owe Josie (Inglorious trainer Josie Carroll) and Mike (Pender Harbour trainer trainer Mike DePaulo) a lot for having the confidence in me to ride these great horses."
Pender Harbour is the early 7-2 early second pick in the 14-horse field behind Queen'splatekitten, the 3-1 early favourite. Pender Harbour will break from post nine while Queen'splatekitten starts from the third post position.
Contreras will lead Pender Harbour, a chestnut son of Philanthropist, to his turf debut with a full head of steam.
A three-time winner in seven starts, Pender Harbour, last year's Kingarvie Stakes champion, finished third to Inglorious in the Plate and followed it up with the victory by a nose over Bowman's Causeway in the Prince of Wales.
"Both horses have huge hearts, you don't have to ask them to win," Contreras said. "They want to win.
"Inglorious is a horse that comes around once in a lifetime. Josie and the crew really do a great job having her ready for me. I know she will be there for me when I ask her for that run in the last quarter."
Pender Harbour, a gelding, worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, breezing, over the Woodbine turf training track July 31.
"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. I told Mike he was ready. Mike has brought him into this race even better than his last start, if that is even possible."
DePaulo said Pender Harbour was a deserving winner at Fort Erie.
"I thought the horse ran a super race in the Prince of Wales," he said. "He showed a lot of heart and desire. Coming to the wire, we knew he had a big shot to win. Where we were standing, we couldn't see the last few yards.
"All we could do at that point was to scream and cheer and see if we could get him there. He won by a nose and fought every inch to get there."
Contreras, who is on pace to break Mickey Walls’ single-season wins mark at Woodbine of 221 set in 1991, is excited at the chance to put his name in the history book.