Winward Islands wins the Nijinsky Stakes.

Winward Islands wins the Nijinsky Stakes.

Michael Burns

Windward Islands Sails to Nijinsky Defense

Sam-Son Farms' 7-year-old gelding overcomes odds-on favorite Fifty Proof at Woodbine.

Windward Islands collared odds-on choice Fifty Proof just past mid-stretch and edged away in the closing strides to successfully defend his title in the $329,793 Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) (VIDEO) on a yielding Woodbine turf course July 24.

Sam-Son Farm's 7-year-old gelding registered his first win for trainer Mark Frostad since running away with the 1 1/8-mile Nijinksy one year ago, also on yielding ground.

Emma-Jayne Wilson was aboard the son of Cozzene--Cruisie (by Assert), who posted a slight upset by three-quarters of a length over the 9-10 choice Fifty Proof. The winning gray was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Steve Kramer and the Cozzene Syndicate.

Windward Islands was taken in hand at the rail in fourth after bumping with the imposing Fifty Proof at the start. Fifty Proof, last year's Northern Dancer (Can-IT) runner-up for trainer Ian Black, showed the way over Hailstone and Silver Rock through tepid splits of :25.47, :49.39, and 1:13.23. Windward Islands angled off the rail a bit for the homestretch and advanced into second.

After drawing even with Fifty Proof past the eighth pole, Windward Islands responded to a couple of right-handed cracks of the whip from Wilson to take command in the final stages, completing the distance in 1:49.82.

"My guy got his feet together, found his composure, and got into a nice settled spot," said Wilson of the early portion of the race. "As we turned for home, he just had a nice angled-out position and he just powered home."

Fifty Proof, with Luis Contreras aboard, held off Hailstone and Jesse Campbell by a neck for second.

Windward Islands came into the Nijinsky following a surging third-place finish in the Woodbine's Singspiel Stakes (Can-IIIT) at 12 furlongs June 26. The win was his first in four starts in 2011.

He won last year's Nijinsky off a 13-month layoff by 3 1/2 lengths with Chantal Sutherland in the irons. Wilson was on third-place finisher Southdale that day.

"I remember the way he (Windward Islands) powered by me in last year's Nijinsky on the yielding going," she said after posting the third of her four wins on the Woodbine program. "I was pretty confident that he could surge along pretty quickly down the lane."

Windward Islands improved his career mark to 6-4-4 in 23 races with earnings of $879,293. The victory was worth $189,900.

The winner carried 121 pounds and paid $9.70, $3.20, and $3 as the third choice in the field of six. Grade III winner Fifty Proof, also carrying 121 pounds off his runner-up effort in the one-mile King Edward Stakes (Can-IIT) June 25, returned $2.70 and $2.50. The exacta was worth $29.60. Hailstone, who added blinkers for trainer Mark Casse following a fifth in the King Edward, was $3.80 to show.

Silver Stone, also saddled by Casse, was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth after edging 123-pound high weight Musketier  by a neck. Guipago trailed.