01/18/2006 1:00AM

Chip forces retirement to Niigon


Niigon, winner of the Queen's Plate in 2004, has been retired after a chip was discovered in his right front ankle.

, a 5-year-old horse owned and bred by Chiefswood Stable and trained by Eric Coatrieux, is at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida. In his last race, he finished fifth in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream on Jan. 7.

"He was a bit off after that race," said Coatrieux. "We took a few X-rays and realized there was a chip."

Coatrieux conferred with Chiefswood's principals, Bob and Mark Krembil, and the decision was made to retire Niigon rather than subject him to surgery and an indeterminate period of rehabilitation. The horse probably will stand at stud for his owners beginning in 2007.

Niigon defeated A Bit O'Gold in the Queen's Plate but finished second, beaten a head by A Bit O'Gold, in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

A Bit O'Gold went on to win the Sovereign Award as Canada's 3-year-old male champion, with Niigon second in the balloting.

Niigon, an Ontario-bred by Unbridled out of the Nureyev mare Savethelastdance, retires with a record of 4-7-3 and earnings of $1,135,228 (Canadian) from 23 starts.