Jockey Gary Boulanger positioned Dragon Bay comfortably off the pace set by Riker through fractions of :24.84, :49.34, and 1:13.32 for three-quarters of a mile. Are You Kidding Me, who won the Eclipse the last two years, was placed further back in the eight-horse field.
As Are You Kidding Me was asked at the top of the turn to make up ground, Boulanger showed patience with Dragon Bay, waiting to make his move until heading into the stretch. As Riker tired coming off the turn, Dragon Bay's rider took the opportunity to take the lead. Are You Kidding Me closed fast but just missed at the wire. The victory marked the Stuart Simon trainee's first graded score. The winner is owned by Simon and Russell and Brent McLellan.
"I didn't think there was much speed in the race other than Riker," Boulanger said. "(Simon) said you could do what you want with him. When he broke that good, I just said I'm just going to track (jockey Jesse Campbell on Riker) as long as I have to. At the half-mile pole, I really liked the position I was in. He ran really hard down the lane. The gallop out was there, too. He's a pretty nice horse."
Final time for the 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic track was 1:43.79. Unbridled Juan finished third to maintain his record of on-the-board efforts, which is now 17 for 17.
At final odds of 18-1 Dragon Bay paid $38, $11, and $5.10 across the board.
Simon was elated to see his pupil display heart in the Eclipse.
"Last year it was a process," he said. "When we got the blinkers off him and the earplugs in him, he seemed to settle and run straight. He's always been wildly talented and once we got him straightened out, he's taken care of the rest."
The 4-year-old son of Parading was bred by Shawhan Place in Kentucky. The gelding, out of the Horse Chestnut mare Cologne, was a $6,000 purchase by Cary Brooks during the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale, where he was consigned by his breeder.
Dragon Bay won the Oct. 23 English Channel Stakes at Belmont Park three starts back. Prior to his Eclipse victory, his best effort came in the Sept. 17 Ontario Derby (G3) at Woodbine, where he finished six lengths behind Amis Gizmo to get second.
With a record of 4-2-3 from 16 starts, Dragon Bay now has earnings of $270,752.