Stronach's Phantom Light Takes Eclipse Stakes

(from Woodbine track report)
Stronach Stable's inexperienced Phantom Light impressively defeated 11 of Canada's top older horses in Saturday's $172,650 Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine.

Phantom Light entered the race with two career wins in only six lifetime starts.

A son of 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup, the Ontario-bred may have lacked in experience, but proved he was not short on talent.

With jockey Robert Landry aboard, the grey 4-year-old broke well from the gate to stalk the early pace in second, outside of front-runner Tempered Appeal. With less than a half-mile remaining, Landry and Phantom Light gained the lead and edged away from their rivals to win by 1 ½ lengths in a final time of 1:43.62.

"I've always really liked this horse and I'm just happy to be a part of it today," said Landry, who captured his fourth career Eclipse win. "He was a little sharper than I thought he would be, but good horses overcome obstacles and he ran a great race. I had a lot of horse at the top of the lane. I knew one had to be running to catch him."

For trainer Dan Vella, who captured Eclipse win number three, the stakes victory was worth the wait.

"It's been a long time coming for this horse and it's just nice to see him reach his potential," said Vella. "He's always been a nice horse with a lot of talent. He just needed to mature and settle down."

At 1 1/16 miles, the Eclipse is the first major test of the season for Canada's top older horses. In the past, the prestigious event has been won such stars as Overskate (1980), Frost King (1982, 1983), Izvestia (1991) and Mt. Sassafras (1996).

In victory, Phantom Light returned $12.00, $7.50, $6.10 combining with No Comprende ($5.00, $4.80) for a $67.50 exacta. Anglian Prince ($7.30) completed the $393.90 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)