Stronach Stables’ Hunters Bay won a stirring stretch duel with Pender Harbour to capture Sunday’s Grade 3, $208,400 Dominion Day Stakes, at Woodbine.
The five-year-old son of Ghostzapper-Smok’n Frolic, trained by Reade Baker and ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, needed the length of the stretch to get past Pender Harbour, who was named Canada’s champion three-year-old in 2011, in the 1 1/14-mile main track event.
Straight Story, who won the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine in November, led the compact five-horse field through easy fractions of :25.42, :50.75 and 1:15.35, as Pender Harbour stalked from second position, with Hunters Bay sitting just off his right flank.
Pender Harbour moved to the lead through the far turn and Hunters Bay accelerated alongside, commencing a stretch-long duel with the Stronach Stables horse prevailing by a length under a strong ride from Wilson. Stately Victor, with Rosie Napravnik in the irons, rallied for third. The final running time was 2:04.11.
Wilson was impressed with the maturity of Hunters Bay throughout the ten-furlong test.
“He’s so easy to handle,” said Wilson. “If you ask him to sit, he sits. If you ask him to move on up, he moves on up. Having that tactical ability makes it easier to ride these kinds of races.
Inside the eighth pole, he really started to stride on and stride away from him (Pender Harbour). I was pretty confident in my horse. I give kudos to Pender Harbour, he put up a brave fight.”
Baker advised that Hunters Bay, who entered the Dominion Day off a smart score in the Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes, may take his show on the road next time out.
“We’ll probably go to the Whitney at Saratoga or possibly the Pacific Classic at Del Mar,” said Baker. “He’s got speed and endurance and that’s all you need.”
Hunters Bay returned $3.40, $2.40, combining with Pender Harbour ($3.90) for a $10.60 (4-6) exactor. Stately Victor rounded out a triactor worth $19.30 (4-6-3). There was no show wagering. Newsdad was scratched.
Live racing continues on Holiday Monday at Woodbine. First post on Monday’s 10-race card is 1:05 p.m.