01/27/2004 12:00AM

Islington's one U.S. race swayed voters


Islington raced in four countries in 2003, but her lone appearance in the United States, a victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, was enough for her to earn the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding filly or mare on turf.

received 90 votes, beating out Heat Haze (74) and Six Perfections (66). Tates Creek, Ipi Tombe, and Bien Nicole also received votes. Heat Haze won 4 of 7 starts in 2003, all in stakes, but was only fourth in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Six Perfections won her lone start in the United States in the Breeders' Cup Mile and was a Group 1 winner in France.

Islington, a Sadler's Wells filly, won only 2 of 6 starts in 2003. Her other win came in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks.

Sent off as the 5-2 favorite in an outstanding field of 12 in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, Islington rallied from sixth to defeat runner-up L'Ancresse by a neck. It was the last victory of Islington's career.

Islington, now 5, was retired following a ninth-place finish in the Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 30. She resides at Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland, where she was foaled. Breeding plans have not been announced.

Owned by the estate of Lord Weinstock and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Islington was no stranger to the United States when she arrived at Santa Anita last fall. In 2002, she started in the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park, but finished a troubled third.

In 2003, she started only in Group 1 or Grade 1 stakes, and faced males four times.

Islington lost her first two races of the year, finishing third behind Nayef and Rakti in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18, and sixth behind Falbrav in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, England on July 5.

In late summer, Islington began her march to the championship. She scored a one-length victory as a heavy favorite on Aug. 20 in the Yorkshire Oaks, a race open to older fillies and mares, then turned in perhaps her best performance of the year in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Rallying from off the pace, she finished third, a neck behind High Chaparral and Falbrav. It turned out to be a remarkably productive race. High Chaparral, the champion turf male of 2003, later finished in a dead heat for the win in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Falbrav returned to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in late September and ran third in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Islington made her next start Breeders' Cup Day at Santa Anita, where her victory made a lasting impression on voters.