Two Canadian champions from 2023 meet in the 68th bet365 Eclipse Stakes (G2) at Woodbine on June 1, part of a graded stakes-laden card. The Eclipse is a 1 1/16 mile race on Tapeta for four-year-olds and older and last year’s King’s Plate winner and Champion three-year-old male (#6) PARAMOUNT PRINCE meets up with the 2023 Champion Older Male/Main Track (#1) TYSON.

Tyson is likely to be bet down as the race favourite and this will be his season debut for trainer Josie Carroll.

Trends, race set-up and distance are key approaches to picking the winner of this important race for older horses.

Eclipse history

Some of the biggest names in Canadian racing history have won the Eclipse; it is a rare year when the race is not won by a top-class horse. He’s a Smoothie, Royal Chocolate, Overskate, Regal Classic and the great Izvestia are just some of the past winners.

The change from dirt to an all-weather surface at Woodbine in 2006 has altered the winner’s slate of the Eclipse somewhat in recent years, as synthetic dirt specialists have been the most successful. Virtually every Eclipse winner in the last 15 years had proven form on Tapeta (or Polytrack) before they competed in the Eclipse.

In this year’s field, all but one of the starters has won on Tapeta. (#7) GET SMOKIN, a multiple Grade 2 winner and millionaire for trainer Mark Casse, has made all 27 career starts on the grass. Casse also trains Paramount Prince.

The majority of the last 10 winners of the Eclipse had made at least one start before the race, although the last two winners, Treason in 2023 and Artie’s Storm in 2022, were making their season debuts. Treason’s trainer, Josie Carroll, known for her expertise with horses returning from a layoff, is the trainer of Tyson.

A graded stakes win, or a stakes win, coming into the Eclipse is preferable for picking out a potential winner and 14 of the last 20 winners of the race were five-years-old or older. Four-year-olds in the Eclipse Stakes tend to be making their first start against older horses, having only raced against their own age group to this point, and are lacking some of the experience the older runners.

Race set-up and distance

The 1 1/16 mile distance on Tapeta at Woodbine is a specialist distance. It is important that a horse shows a liking for the distance, which features a short run to the first turn. Winning at this distance requires a not just stamina but a strong turn of foot from the last turn to the finish.
Five of this year’s entrants have won at the distance on Tapeta: Tyson, Skyro, War Bomber, J P Hellish and Rondure.

Here is a projection on how this year’s Eclipse Stakes may set up:


J P Hellish
Paramount Prince
Get Smokin


War Bomber

Deep closers


You can see the race, at least on paper, is balanced with speed types and off-the-pace horses.
It should be noted that King’s Plate champion Paramount Prince has only ever won, at least to this point in his career, when he has had the early lead to himself.

The same can be said for Get Smokin, who has not raced since September when he won a 1 1/2 mile turf stakes race at Kentucky Downs. The seven-year-old has been working fast since he got to Woodbine in April, so it appears he enjoys the new surface. It should be noted, however, that he runs his best when he has the lead to himself.

J P Hellish, who is stepping up in class from high claiming races, often races on or near the pace.

War Bomber’s one victory at the distance on Tapeta came in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup in 2022 but his best races last year came on the turf. Rondure, a route winner as a three-year-old, appears to prefer sprinting.

Tyson, who won after a long layoff last May, is tractable and will likely stalk the pace under jockey Kazushi Kimura.

Skyro is an interesting newcomer for trainer Kevin Attard. The six-year-old has a record of 6-2-2-1 on all-weather tracks and he is two-for-six at the distance. In his most recent Tapeta outing, he earned a 98 Beyer Figure, higher than any other Tapeta number in the field other than Tyson. In that big win, Skyro defeated next out winner and graded stakes-placed Ohana Honor.

Before scratches, I am interested in playing an exacta box of Tyson, Skyro and Get Smokin. If the latter does not compete, that would leave Paramount Prince with the lead to himself.

The play – $4 Exacta Box 1, 2, 7.

Good luck with your bet365 wagers!

68th bet365 Eclipse Stakes (G2); June 1, Woodbine, Race 9
post time 5:11 p.m.; $175,000; 1 1/16 miles

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer - ML Odds

1 – Tyson – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll 5-2
2 – Skyro – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard 6-1
3 – Palazzi – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse 20-1
4 – War Bomber (IRE) – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Norm McKnight 8-1
5 – J P Hellish – Eswan Flores – Martin Drexler 12-1
6 – Paramount Prince – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse 4-1
7 – Get Smokin (S) – Fernando De La Cruz – Mark Casse 2-1
8 – Rondure – Rafael Hernandez – Katerina Vassilieva 12-1