Pender Harbour: A Model of Consistency
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Photo caption: Pender Harbour on his way to winning the Steady Growth Stakes, a race he won three times. Photo by Michael Burns

By Jennifer Morrison

He was known around his barn as ‘The King’ and from 2010-2015 Pender Harbour ruled the roost of Ontario-breds with his tenacity and will to win.

Pender Harbour was plucked from the 2009 CTHS Ontario annual yearling sale for just $17,000 by Denny Andrews of Alberta who then shared ownership of the solidly-built chestnut with partner Sandra Lazaruk and Robert and Bob Giffin.

Trainer Mike DePaulo remembers when ‘Pender’ walked into the ring as hip number 39 at the yearling sale.

“There were a couple of horses that they liked by the sire, Philanthropist, that year,” said DePaulo. “He was a first year-sire, so he was a bit of an unknown.”

Philanthropist had just been brought into Ontario by Dr. Mike Colterjohn, manager of Gardiner Farms in Caledon East and Andrews was a member of the syndicate. The stallion, a son of Kris S. from a blue-blooded female family of the successful Ogden Mills Phipps breeding program, was a stakes winner at four.

“It was Denny’s friend Gail Wood [also a breeder and yearling consignor] who liked Pender the best. I like another one who ended up going for $90,000.”

Pender Harbour’s dam, the Hail the Ruckus stakes winner Uproar, had only a few foals to race that were minor winners but DePaulo said the colt had a “beautiful hip”.

It was only just over a year later that Pender Harbour won his maiden in his second career start and two weeks later won the Kingarvie Stakes, putting some $125,000 in purses in his saddlebags.

With that promise, it was easy for the Pender Harbour team to have visions of a Queen’s Plate start for their bargain purchase. Now gelded, Pender Harbour got a late start to his 3-year-old season but ran a huge race in the $1 million Plate to finish third behind another CTHS sales grad, the filly Inglorious.

Pender Harbour began to blossom and three weeks later won the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of wales Stakes on dirt at Fort Erie. Another three weeks after that, and on an impossibly soft grass course, Pender Harbour was up to win the gruelling 1 ½ mile Breeders Stakes.

The gelding completed his sophomore season with a win in the Bunty Lawless Stakes on turf and a second-place finish against older horses in the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes.

He had banked over $860,000 in purses that season and was named Canada’s Champion Three-Year-Old Male. The gelding’s exploits also earned Gardiner Farms, founded by George Gardiner, its first Outstanding Breeder Sovereign Award, an emotional moment at the ceremony as Dr. Colterjohn had passed away just one week earlier.

Through the next four seasons, Pender Harbour battled through 26 more stakes races, most of them graded.

Competing on Woodbine’s Polytrack or on the turf and at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 ¾ miles, the gutsy gelding became a fan favourite.

He showed no mercy on fellow Ontario-sired rivals with multiple wins in the Steady Growth (he won the race three times) and Elgin Stakes through those years. He also rarely missed many open races for older horses. Among some of his most amazing efforts was his second-place finish in the 2012 Dominion Day Handicap, a Grade 3, to Frank Stronach’s Hunters Bay followed by a second and third in the Grade 2 Nijinsky and Sky Classic Stakes, both on turf.

In his final year of racing at the age of seven in 2015, Pender Harbour was never worse than third.

On the last day of racing at Woodbine that season, Pender Harbour finished third in the tough Valedictory Stakes at 1 ¾ miles to Melmich. There was a winner’s circle tribute to the gelding following the race and a blanket with “Happy Retirement Pender Harbour’ emblazoned on it was draped over the champ.

Andrews, Lazaruk and the Giffins also donated $15,000 to LongRun in Pender’s name.

Pender Habour retired as the fourth-leading Ontario-bred money earner with an incredible $1,922,680 in earnings.

“He retired 100% sound, he could have raced the next year as an 8-year-old,’ said DePaulo. “He was a trier and a model of consistency.”

Pender Harbour was re-schooled as a riding horse in Alberta before returning to be Andrews’ riding buddy.