Perfect in four starts over the Woodbine Polytrack last year, Nipissing faces seven other 3-year-old fillies in the $150,000 Selene Stakes (Can-III) May 19, a first step toward next month's Woodbine Oaks.
Chiefswood Stable's Ontario homebred filly, winner of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes last fall, is a leading nominee for the June 9 Woodbine Oaks, a $500,000 race. She is also is nominated to the $1 million Queen's Plate July 7, a race her deceased sire, Niigon, captured in 2004.
Nipissing faces multiple graded stakes winner Spring Venture in the 1 1/16-mile Selene, which is race 8 on the Sunday Woodbine program with a 4:25 p.m. EDT scheduled post. Both Nipissing and Spring Venture were assigned 124 pounds for the Selene and will spot the remaining fillies seven pounds apiece.
Trained by Rachel Halden, Nipissing was untouchable at Woodbine last season but stumbled in her only start this year, which came as a longshot in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 6. She finished a distant sixth that day, 11 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Emollient.
Steve Bahen, who has teamed with the bay filly in all of her starts so far, has the call once again from post 2.
Spring Venture, racing for Gary Barber and her breeder, Stoneway Farm, also looks to rebound from a poor performance in the Ashland, when she was eighth. Like Nipissing, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Spring At Last should appreciate a return to Woodbine, where she is unbeaten in three tries for trainer Mark Casse.
She won both the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIT) on grass and the Mazarine (Can-III) on the main track prior to running 13th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies turf (gr. IT) to conclude her 2012 campaign. Patrick Husbands regains the mount from post 3.
The only other filly in the Selene field eligible for the Woodbine Oaks is Thats Our Princess, Gustav Schickedanz's homebred daughter of Curlin who won her only start May 4 over a maiden special weight field at Woodbine. She tallied in front-running fashion by 3 1/4 lengths, ridden out by jockey Luis Contreras in her debut at six furlongs.
Jesse Campbell takes over on the bay filly, who is out of the stakes-winning Princess Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus.
Contreras will be aboard Amerman Racing's Coffee Clique, whose three starts this year for trainer Brian Lynch have come on the grass at Gulfstream Park. The Medaglia d'Oro filly won a first-level allowance in February and has two wins from five starts overall.
Derek Chin's Fun in D' Sun stretches out for trainer Laurie Silvera following a third-place showing in the Star Shoot Stakes to begin the season April 20 at Woodbine.
Another filly on the improve is Leigh Court, who has two wins and a second in three starts this season for Melnyk Racing Stable and trainer Josie Carroll. The daughter of Grand Slam won a first-level allowance at seven furlongs by two lengths when favored April 28 at Woodbine.
Recent maiden winner Takeyourbreathaway, trained by Casse for John Oxley, and Overheard, third last time in the Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association on the Keeneland grass April 18, complete the field.
$150,000 Selene Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:25 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Takeyourbreathaway (KY), P Husbands, 117, M E Casse
2. Nipissing (ON), S R Bahen, 124, R Halden
3. Spring Venture (KY), P Husbands, 124, M E Casse
4. Overheard (KY), E R Da Silva, 117, M Pierce
5. Leigh Court (KY), J Stein, 117, J Carroll
6. Thats Our Princess (ON),J M Campbell, 117, M Keogh
7. Fun in D' Sun (KY), O Moreno, 117, L Silvera
8. Coffee Clique (KY), L Contreras, 117, B A Lynch