TORONTO, April 15 – Princess Niigon, piloted by Rafael Hernandez, was crowned victorious in the first race of the 2017 meet on Saturday, at Woodbine.
Trained by Julia Carey for owner Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Princess Niigon settled just off the early pace of the favoured Forestella in the five furlong Tapeta sprint before rushing to the lead in the stretch for a comfortable 1 3/4-length score.
Hernandez finished sixth in the jockey standings at Woodbine last season with 99 wins but enjoyed being at the top of the table, if only for a moment.
"It feels great," laughed Hernandez. "She broke sharp and I let her do her own thing. We sat in the position we wanted to be in and just rolled off in the stretch."
The veteran rider, who captured the Queen’s Plate in 2015 with Shaman Ghost, is hoping for another strong season in 2017.
"Hopefully we do more of the same and do it a little bit better," said Hernandez.
The victory by Princess Niigon continues what has been a wonderful week for Carey with top trainee Midnight Miley taking home the Sovereign Award for Champion Older Female on Thursday evening.
"What a way to start," said Carey. "This is the first horse I’m running for Joey Gee Stables and we made it a winning one."
The 133-day Woodbine meet continues through to December 10.