12/04/2011 6:49PM

Woodbine: Eagle Poise ends marathon Valedictory a head in front

Michael Burns
Jockey Patrick Husbands wins the Valedictory for the third time, thanks to Eagle Poise's narrow decision over Harrods Creek.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario—Eagle Poise  lowered the 1 3/4-mile track record in a thrilling renewal of the $153,300 Valedictory Stakes, Woodbine’s closing day feature on Sunday.

Eagle Poise ($8.80), based in Maryland with trainer Graham Motion, shipped in to win the Nov. 11 allowance prep for the Valedictory by a neck over Eye of the Leopard, who was the slight favorite over Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Afleet Again in the Grade 3 Valedictory.

Harrods Creek tracked the leading Getta Rhythm through honest fractions, before taking control the second time around the far turn. Eye of the Leopard and Eagle Poise both rallied in unison, and Eagle Poise went better in the stretch and nailed Harrods Creek on the wire to win by a head. Eye of the Leopard wound up third, and Afleet Again finished a distant fourth in his first start on a synthetic surface.

The final time of 2:57.62 was .65 of a second faster than the previous Polytrack record, which was set by Marsh Side in the 2006 Valedictory.   

It was the third Valedictory triumph for Patrick Husbands, who won last year on Pool Play.

“He was pretty rank the first quarter, so I put him behind horses,” said Husbands. “After a half-mile, he relaxed, and when I got to the three-quarter pole, I put a little pressure on [Eye of the Leopard]. When I reached the half-mile pole, he started taking me. I waited as long as possible, and down the lane, he showed me how gutsy he is.”

Eagle Poise, the runner-up to Cloudy’s Knight in the 2009 Valedictory, banked $90,000 in his first stakes score for Riverdee Stable.