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Monday, May 22, 2006

Who Shines in the Eclipse?

In 1956, the Ontario Jockey Club held the first running of the Eclipse Handicap Stakes to honour the immortal stallion who was undefeated in 18 races and is a "direct forbearer of more than 92 per cent of Thoroughbred racehorses on earth today", according to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
The 51st running of the Eclipse, the first major race for older male horses on the Woodbine calendar, highlights Woodbine's Holiday Monday card, one day after strong winds blew away the last seven races of the card on Sunday.

An intriguing field of eight lines up in the Eclipse, race seven and the final leg of the Win 4, with Kentucky-based ALUMNI HALL being an intriguing invader for trainer Neil Howard and jockey Robbie Albarado, Alumni Hall had his best season of racing last year as a six-year-old, winning five of 10 starts.
He comes into the Eclipse off a near-career best Beyer Figure effort when second to front running Wanderin Boy in the Ben Ali Handicap at Keeneland (G3).

Beware, however as 1 1/16 miles is not the horse's best distance although the lack of a lot of early speed in the field should keep him close all the way.
Speaking of speed, TWISTED WIT stretches out from sprints in an interesting move by trainer Bob Tiller. The chunky son of Distorted Humor is certainly a better runner at short distances but he has closed ground at seven furlongs in the past. Perhaps lone speed in the Eclipse?

The rapidly improving ARCH HALL is the pick and a popular one according to other handicappers. He may have moved too soon in his recent start, the Fifth Season Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park but before that, hit a high note with a 100 Beyer Figure effort when 2nd in the Razorback. He looks too tough.

An even early pace could also help ALLEGED RULER who is a better horse than he has shown to this point. The 5-year-old rig is an ace at the distance and makes that often juicy move from turf-to-dirt.

BLOWN AWAY - Strong winds early in the day led to the Woodbine card being cancelled after race 2 on Sunday, although the winds calmed down noticeably soon after the plug was pulled on the day. The Grade 3 Selene Stakes will be held at dusk on Wednesday - race 4 of the 9 race card.


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