09/18/2011 4:26PM

Woodbine: Wigmore Hall overcomes slow pace, traffic to take Northern Dancer

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Michael Burns
Wigmore Hall rallies along the inside under Jamie Spencer to edge Simmard by a neck in the Northern Dancer.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario—Wigmore Hall, the favored shipper from England, encountered traffic problems on the far turn during a ground-saving trip before closing to capture the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf at Woodbine on Sunday.

Bourbon Bay was pressed through a slow pace by Seaside Retreat in the 1 1/2-mile turf route, and they were joined on the lead by Simmard midway on the backstretch.

Simmard assumed command on the far turn, and had a clear lead early in the stretch, before Wigmore Hall kicked in and Al Khali mounted a wide rally. Wigmore Hall plugged away to prevail by a neck over Simmard, who was another half-length in front of a hanging Al Khali. The final time over the firm going was 2:30.67.

Jamie Spencer rode Wigmore Hall ($4.90), who earned $300,000 of the $501,000 purse for  owner Mark Hawtin and trainer Michael Bell.

“He was very brave,” said Spencer. “There was no pace. It was an extremely messy race. I was a bit worried, but he’s got a good turn of foot. I had to be ballsy, going [inside], and luckily, I got the room. I’m just delighted for the connections. He’s finally won a Group 1.”