After entering the starting gate as the 12-1 longest shot on the board, Chiefswood Stable's Niigon's Eclipse took it to a field of five other fillies and mares to score her first graded victory in the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (G2T) May 27 over the Woodbine turf.
Although defending 4-5 favorite Starship Jubilee got the jump on her from the gate in the one-turn mile, Niigon's Eclipse caught up and eventually led through fractions of :23.78 and :46.99 through a half-mile. While Starship Jubilee stayed with the 5-year-old daughter of Niigon through most of the running, others also took their shots at the leader.
With Ghostly Presence taking a jab in the turn and Grizzel close on her heels, Niigon's Eclipse was kept to task and stayed focused. It looked as though Starship Jubilee was fading, but coming off the turn she cut the corner and again came at the leader. Through the stretch, Niigon's Eclipse was able to open up on that group as Bletchley came with a closing run to get within a half-length for second.
Rachel Halden-trained Niigon's Eclipse finished the mile in 1:32.74 over a firm turf course.
Ridden by jockey Gary Boulanger, the winner paid $26.70, 10.90, and $4.60. The runner-up returned $6.30 and $4.60, and Gianna's Dream paid $5.60 to show. Starship Jubilee settled for fourth, with Grizzel and Ghostly Presence completing the order of finish.
"I rode this filly a couple years ago, and you can't fight her too much. You have to get along with her, and the better you do, the harder she'll kick," Boulanger said. "She broke good and she got underneath me, and when I crossed over Eurico (da Silva, aboard Starship Jubilee), she started flicking her ears, and I figured I'd wait as long as I have to. When I got to the head of the lane and they got to me, I knew I had a big kick, and when they came to my hip, she just exploded and ran down the lane as hard as anything."
It was Niigon's Eclipse's first victory since the 2017 Victoriana Stakes in July under Patrick Husbands. She had finished second or third in her last four starts, including an April 13 allowance race at Keeneland in which she fell three-quarters of a length short of winning.
"Me and Gary joked about that in the paddock. I was a little surprised they weren't showing a little more respect," Halden said. "That was a huge race that she ran at Keeneland, and she loves it here. The mile to me is her ideal trip ... and I was a bit surprised about the price, but that's OK, she didn't know."
Bred in Ontario, Niigon's Eclipse is out of the Hennessy mare Eclipse Bay, who has produced five other winners from her six foals to race.
Niigon's Eclipse boasts a record of 5-5-3 from 16 starts and earnings of $330,147.