TORONTO, ON – Chiefswood Stable’s homebred Niigon’s Eclipse shot to the front early and fended off all challengers to pull a 12-1 upset in Sunday’s Grade 2, $175,000 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine.
Breaking well from post 6 under Gary Boulanger, Niigon’s Eclipse fought for control of the lead with the 4-5 favorite Starship Jubilee down the backside before taking command and crossing over to the inside while posting splits of :23.78 and :46.99. Holding a comfortable 2-length lead into the far turn, Niigon’s Eclipse was soon met by her fellow Chiefswood Stable runner Ghostly Presence and a reinvigorated Starship Jubilee at the top of the stretch. While Starship Jubilee appeared to have all the momentum, Niigon’s Eclipse dug in gamely and fought back with gusto. The Rachel Halden trainee kicked clear in the final furlong and had just enough left to withstain a late surge from Bletchley to cross first by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:32.74 for the mile-long event over the E.P. Taylor turf course.
“I rode this filly a couple years ago and you can’t fight her too much,” Boulanger said. “You have to get along with her, and the better you do, the harder she’ll kick. She broke good and she got underneath me, and when I crossed over (Starship Jubilee), she started flicking her ears, and I figured I’d wait as long as I have to. When I got to the head of the lane and they got to me, I knew I had a big kick, and when they came to my hip, she just exploded and ran down the lane as hard as anything.”
Gianna’s Dream was able to nose out third over Starship Jubilee after the heavy favorite flattened late in the stretch. Grizzel looked to have a chance at the top of the stretch but lacked the necessary kick to close and settled for fifth, while Ghostly Presence completed the order of finish. Jennifer Lynnette was scratched.
Niigon’s Eclipse’s win was her second stakes score following last year’s $125,000 Victoriana Stakes here last July and improved her record to 16-5-5-3 with career earnings of $330,147. The 5-year-old daughter Niigon has never finished worse than third in 12 career starts at Woodbine, where she sports a line of 5-4-3.
“She’s an absolute sweetheart to be around and deal with,” Halden said. “She’s a pleasure and she’s so genuine. She comes over here in the afternoon and just leaves it all out on the racetrack every time she runs.”
Niigon’s Eclipse returned $26.70 to win, $10.90 to place, and $4.60 to show. Bletchley brought back $6.30 to place and $4.60 to show, while Gianna’s Dream paid $5.60 to show.