TORONTO, July 30 – Favourite Niigon’s Eclipse took the lead in the stretch and held off a pair of rivals by a neck to win the $125,000 Victoriana Stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares three years old and up contested on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine.
After being dismounted at the gate in the previous race, Patrick Husbands returned to action to guide Niigon’s Eclipse to her first stakes victory in 1:40.68 over 1-1/16 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course for trainer Rachel Halden and owner/breeder Chiefswood Stable.
The popular four-year-old chestnut mare left from post 10 and raced outside in third-place as Miss Sea (Jesse Campbell) led the field with Hidden Turn (Eurico Rosa da Silva) pressuring by her side through the first three-quarters in :24.25, :47.57 and 1:11:61.
Turning for home, Niigon’s Eclipse made an aggressive bid for the lead and took over down the stretch with Flipcup (Luis Contreras) and Internal Bourbon (Alan Garcia) closing for second and third, respectively.
“It was lucky leaving the gate since she was relaxed because she’s an aggressive filly so going down the back she stalked good, but the fight was on full out in terms of the far turn," said Husbands. “Down there, she started to get aggressive and I was like ‘oh, my God!’ So she dragged me to the lead and I was hoping nobody was going to come and catch me, but she fought on.”
Sent postward as the 2-1 wagering favourite following a third-place finish in the $100,000 Zadracarta, a seven-furlong sprint on July 17, Niigon’s Eclipse paid $6.10, $3.50, and $2.80 across the board.
“We thought she was doing so well and races sometimes for her are a bit hard to find, but we thought it was worth giving her a shot [in the Zadracarta] and she ran very credible, but definitely today’s distance was more suited for her,” commented Halden, who will be looking to keep Niigon’s Eclipse racing on the turf.
The Niigon-Eclipse Bay mare, who was also stakes placed in last year’s $127,000 La Prevoyante Stakes (1 mile turf) and $150,000 Carotene Stakes (1-1/8 mile turf) at Woodbine, earned her fourth career win from 11 starts and boosted her bankroll to nearly $200,000.
Niigon’s Eclipse combined with Flipcup ($7.50, 5.40) for a $47.60 (10-1) exactor. A 10-1-2 triactor (Internal Bourbon, $4.30 to show) was worth $103.55 and $1 superfecta (10-1-2-5 [Miss Sea]) paid $393.90.
The complete order of finish was Niigon’s Eclipse, Flipcup, Internal Bourbon, Miss Sea, Hidden Turn, Bear’s Pride, Alice’s War, Sweater Weather, Obeah Woman and Lilly’s Goldie.