TORONTO, July 28 – Niigon’s Eclipse will be aiming for her first stakes victory in Sunday afternoon’s $125,000 Victoriana at Woodbine.
The multiple stakes placed mare is one of 10 contenders in the 1-1/16 mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares three years old and up.
After picking up a cheque in her April 20 season’s debut in a 1-1/16 mile turf allowance at Keeneland, Niigon’s Eclipse scored her first win of the year in an optional claiming race on July 2 over Woodbine’s one-mile turf course with Patrick Husbands aboard. She then closed late to finish third in the $100,000 Zadracarta seven-furlong sprint on July 17.
"I thought that was a huge effort actually. That was actually Canadian-bred — it wasn’t restricted Ontario-sired — and it came up quite a salty little race," said trainer Rachel Halden, who believes the Victoriana’s longer distance will benefit Niigon’s Eclipse. "Seven-eighths might just be a tad too short for her so overall I thought it was a very credible performance.
"I’m more than happy with her. She’s trained back well since and she had a nice work her last work on the turf. We’re happy with where we’re at going into it."
Owned and bred by the Chiefswood Stable, the four-year-old Niigon-Eclipse Bay mare has hit the board in seven of her 10 lifetime starts (three wins) while banking $124,852 in purses. In addition to the Zadracarta, she also placed in her previous stakes outings last year in the $127,000 La Prevoyante Stakes (1 mile turf) and $150,000 Carotene Stakes (1-1/8 mile turf) at Woodbine.
"She is actually relatively lightly raced. Unfortunately, she’s not been without her issues in her career — we’ve had numerous setbacks with her — but she’s been in training for quite a while," said Halden. "Facing older horses, she’s four herself, that doesn’t concern me too much."
Husbands will retain the mount on Niigon’s Eclipse, who is 4-1 on the morning line and will leave from post 10.
Lilley’s Goldie, who is coming off a close third-place finish in the June 18 six-figure Trillium Stakes (1-1/16 mile tapeta), is the 3-1 early favourite with Emma-Jayne Wilson back in the saddle for trainer Nick Gonzalez.
Last year’s Zadracarta Stakes winner Internal Boubon will be making her season’s debut in the Victoriana and is the 7-2 second choice for jockey Alan Garcia and trainer Roger Attfield.
Multiple graded stakes winner Flipcup is the richest of the 10 mares with lifetime earnings of just over $600,000. The William Mott trainee is the only out-of-towner in the field, with Luis Contreras set to ride as she aims for the first win of her six-year-old campaign.
The field also includes the 2015 Victoriana Stakes champion Bear’s Pride, multiple stakes winner Sweater Weather, recent turf winners Alice’s War and Miss Sea, the season-debuting Obeah Woman and Woodbine returnee Hidden Turn.
The Victoriana is scheduled as race six on the 10-race program, which begins at 1 p.m. The $225,000 Wonder Wheres Stakes, the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, headlines the afternoon card as race eight.
$125,000 Victoriana Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer – Morning Line Odds
1. Flipcup – Luis Contrera – William Mott – 8/1
2. Internal Bourbon – Alan Garcia – Roger Attfield – 7/2
3. Obeah Woman – Rafael Hernandez – Barbara Minshall – 6/1
4. Alice’s War – Sunny Singh – Warren LeBlanc – 20/1
5. Miss Sea – Jesse Campbell – Michael Keogh – 10/1
6. Hidden Turn – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Kevin Attard – 15/1
7. Bear’s Pride – Gary Boulanger – Denyse McClachrie – 20/1
8. Lilly’s Goldie – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Nicholas Gonzalez – 3/1
9. Sweater Weather – Jermaine Bridgmohan – Robert Tiller – 15/1
10. Niigon’s Eclipse – Patrick Husbands – Rachel Halden – 4/1