Horse Racing lost one of its brightest Stars today as Nipissing tragically had to be euthanized after injuring her hind-left leg in what would be the final Race of her short but celebrated Career, the Wonder Where Stakes at WoodbineRacetrack. The three-year-old Filly in June had solidified herself as the leader of her Division after winning the important $500k Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, before going on to compete as one of the Choices in the prestigious 154th running of the Queen’s Plate in July. That Race eventually was won by Midnight Aria.
I had the pleasure of seeing Nipissing race on multiple occasions and in what has been the most competitive Filly division in years, she always put in an honest effort, rarely disappointing. She kicked-off her Career last year going unbeaten in four races, including Canada’s top race for two-year-old Fillies, the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Although she never got the titular recognition she deserved, she had the heart of a Champion, just like her Father, 2004 Queen’s Plate Winner Niigon. In any other year, Nipissing would have been named Champion and you would be hard-pressed to find any Racing Fan who would disagree.
I had the incredible fortune of visiting Nipissing at her Stable this Summer during a Backstretch Tour at Woodbine. That big, statuesque Filly had a commanding beauty, on her absolute best behaviour. “Can she have a mint?”, one Woman asked. Trainer Rachel Halden diplomatically declined the offer after milling about it for a quick moment. One could sense a deep maternal protectiveness she had for her Stable Star, especially with an important engagement like the Queen’s Plate on her itinerary. We learned also that Nipissing had been experiencing a rash, which carefully was tended to with a patch of white ointment on her problem area. She was big and strong – if you didn’t tell me that I was in the presence of Nipissing I would’ve mistaken her for a Colt.
It brought me to tears seeing the on-track Ambulance rush to tend to her as she was pulled-up early this afternoon after stalking the pace briefly. I saw a composed, but visibly worried Halden waiting on the turf to be transported over to Nipissing. I admit it upset me even more that before I could process what had happened everyone around me was already cheering for the next Winner. It breaks my heart every time a Horse suffers a life-threatening injury, but it hurts so much more to know it is a Horse for whom I hold a dear place. It is an unavoidable reality of the Sport and the one and only thing I dislike about Horse Racing.
My heart goes out to Halden, Nipissing‘s Rider Steven Bahen and Owner, Chiefswood Stable. Take one quick glance at some of the Photos I’ve taken below of the prized Filly over the past year and you will see how they loved her like a Daughter. Let her be a reminder to all of us that while life is all too short, we must always aspire to be at our best in the little time we have here.
You will never be forgotten, dear Nipissing. You are adored by your many Fans and surely I am not the only one giving you a teary-eyed Farewell. You touched us with your courage, rewarding us with happiness and the thrill of hope.
See some Photos I’ve taken of Nipissing (double-click to enlarge):