Augustin Stable's Canadian homebred Ice Bear held off a late bid from reigning champion dirt male Marchfield to win the $170,275 Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine June 6. The 1 1/16-mile Polytrack event was the first graded stakes score for the game gray gelding.
The son of Maria's Mon--Bristol Pistol, by Regal Classic, prevailed by a neck over Marchfield, who was making his first start since a sixth-place finish in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
The Eclipse marked the third time in 10 months that the two 5-year-olds had crossed paths. Ice Bear, who travelled 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.38, now leads the series 2-1.
Approval Rating seized command from front-running Judiths Wild Rush at the five-sixteenths pole, but tired to finish third.
Ice Bear settled just off the pace in fourth and launched a bid towards the inside at the top of the stretch. With determination, he put away Approval Rating and held off Marchfield.
The Ontario-bred is now a seven-time winner from 22 starts. Winning jockey Chantal Sutherland said trainer MacDonald Benson left her to work out her own trip.
“I can always go with the flow,” Sutherland said. “You're not handcuffed to any real instructions. It worked out.”
Ice Bear earned $103,500 for the victory, raising his career earnings to $641,158 for George Strawbridge Jr. More than $350,000 of his total bankroll has been earned on turf.
“He's versatile. He's good on both (turf and synthetic). He has great acceleration on Polytrack,” Sutherland added.
Ice Bear entered the Eclipse off a fourth-place finish two weeks ago in the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup (Can-IIIT), which was on the E.P. Taylor Turf course.
Benson said the gelding may have needed that last race, which was won by Sterwins.
“It certainly set him up for this good," said Benson. “He seems to love the Poly. I can't get over the way he's taken to Poly over the past two years. I guess we better stick with the Poly.”
Ice Bear defeated Marchfield by a nose in last summer's With Approval Stakes. Marchfield turned the tables in November's Autumn (Can-II), defeating him by three-quarters of a length.
Ice Bear returned $6, $3, and $2.30 and combined with Marchfield ($3.20 and $2.80) for a $20.10 exacta. Approval Rating ($3.40) rounded out a trifecta worth $74.80. Fourth-place finisher Equitable completed a $1 superfecta worth $275.50.