Making his first start on grass, former Triple Crown contender Eddington squeezed between horses in the stretch to nip the determined pacesetter Bob's Proud Movement by a head for victory in the $200,000 Calder Derby (gr. IIIT) in Florida.
After several close tries, Eddington, who was patiently ridden by Eibar Coa for trainer Mark Hennig and owner Willmott Stables Inc., picked up the first graded stakes win of his career.
Held up toward the rear of the 12-horse field after being squeezed at the start, Eddington, a chestnut son of Unbridled, made his move along the inside to range into contention in the stretch. Lacking room, Coa angled out slightly to get around a fading Soverign Honor and got through a narrow opening just in time to avoid a jam-up caused when original third-place finisher Capias angled inward. Eddington got up on the outside of the 40-1 shot Bob's Proud Movement, in the final yards. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile turf test was 1:51 1/5.
"It opens the door for a lot of opportunities for him," Hennig said. "That's not to say we'll concentrate solely on the grass with him, but this race may have been just what he needed to get his confidence back on any surface.
"I thought Eibar (jockey Coa) did a great job dropping him to the rail at the quarter pole. It looked like he might be able to get out but that didn't develop so he took him back to the rail. He did manage to get out a little later. I've seen a progression in his last three or four races in his desire to be more competitive."
Bob's Pround Moment, ridden by Sebastian Madrid, nearly got away with his theft tactics after setting a tepid pace of :24 2/5, :49 and 1:14 1/5. Caballero Negro, with Elias Peltroche aboard, picked up third money following the disqualification of Capias and jockey Cornelio Velasquez for drifitng inward and impeding several runners in the stretch. Capias was placed last in the 12-horse field.
Icy Atlantic, the 2-1 choice, finished seventh with Jerry Bailey. Icy Atlantic chased the pace early while three wide, bumped with Caballero Negro in the stretch and tired in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Eddington, who was second in the Pegasus (gr. III) in his last start, has finished in the money in nine of 11 starts in 2004. Those efforts included third-place showings in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), Preakness (gr. I), Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Travers (gr. I).
"I had a very, very good trip except at the eighth pole I was a little concerned because I didn't have the room to go through horses," Coa said. "I knew I had plenty of horse to go by them, but I didn't know where to go and I waited for a hole to open. Finally, it opened and I went through and he gave me something for the end."
Eddington's third win in 12 lifetime starts increased Eddington's earnings to $614,560.
Carl Rosen Associates bred Eddington, who is out of the Chief's Crown mare Fashion Star, in Kentucky. Eddington was a $450,000 Keeneland yearling purchase.
"His mother was a very nice grass filly," Hennig noted. "Sometimes a horse can learn a lot more running on the grass because he doesn't have all the distractions of the dirt coming back at him. He's headed to Payson Park and he'll get a little breather until the winter when we'll start all over again."
He paid $7.40, $4.40 and $3.20 while topping a $166.60 exacta. Bob's Proud Moment returned $24.80 and $10.20, with Caballero Negro $9.40 to show.
In the $200,000 Calder Oaks, Hopelessly Devoted, also making her debut on the turf, came from behind to notch her fifth lifetime victory at odds of 12-1. She covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51 2/5.
She paid $27.40, $13.40 and $12.80 while finishing 2 3/4 lengths in front of Vous ($10, $9.60), with Skip Command ($21.40) third.