Trainer Eric Coatrieux reports that Niigon, Canada's 2004 Queen's Plate champion, has suffered a leg injury and been retired from racing.The injury is not considered life threatening.
Coatrieux, speaking from his Florida winter training headquarters Tuesday, said a problem was detected after the 5-year-old's fifth- place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park."He was a bit off," he said of the Chiefswood Stable bay. "We took a few x-rays and realized that there was a chip." For the Paris-born conditioner, the non-life threatening injury helps explain the disappointing nine-length defeat Niigon suffered to On Thin Ice in the Hal's Hope."He was going into that race well," he said. "When he moved to the outside, I thought he was going to win. I think that's the point where he ended up getting hurt."The chip was discovered in the ankle of his right front leg. While Niigon theoretically could have returned after the chip's removal and the subsequent rehabilitation, Coatrieux said Chiefswood principals Bob and Mark Krembil opted to retire the four-time winner instead. The decision came a few days after the Hal's Hope."He'll be here for another week and then return home," said Coatrieux, adding that plans had yet to be finalized concerning Niigon's future at stud, the timing of which depends how quickly he recovers.Coatrieux said the injury is disappointing because he believed the Ontario-bred son of Unbridled was getting better with age. "It's a shame that he's retired, because he looked like he was getting better as he got older."Niigon was best on Canadian racing's most important day, winning the 2004 Queen's Plate over favorite A Bit O'Gold. The victory was the first Plate score for his owner, trainer, and jockey Robert Landry. Niigon finished second to A Bit O'Gold in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie and third in the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old and was placed third (via disqualification) in the grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. He retires with earnings of $1,099,532.